Janet Liang dies after bone marrow transplant

Leukemia patient raised awareness of need for Asian American donors

The young Pleasanton woman whose impassioned plea for help on Youtube led to thousands of people signing up as potential bone marrow donors has died.

Janet Liang, who graduated from Amador Valley High in 2005, died Sept. 11, six days after receiving a transplant from a near perfect match.

Liang, 25, battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia, diagnosed in August 2009 while studying at UCLA. She went through eight rounds of high-dosage chemotherapy that lasted over the course of a year.

Some of her hospitalizations lasted for 30 days, while others took several weeks. In June 2010, she left the hospital in complete remission and began a regimen of maintenance therapy that kept her cancer-free for a year and a half. During that time, she and her mother traveled to France and England, and Liang also appeared in People magazine to encourage other young adult cancer patients.

As an advocate for bone marrow donors, Liang raised awareness of the need for Asian donors to Be The Match, the organization that pairs up potential donors and leukemia patients. Marrow drives were held throughout Pleasanton starting in February and hundreds of people registered with Be The Match who might not have otherwise ever registered anywhere.

A Facebook page, "Helping Janet Find Her Perfect Match," announced that she had died.

"Janet has served as an inspiration to all those who knew her," the Facebook announcement says. "Her big heart and big smile was something that we all cherished. And although she never fulfilled her dream of being a teacher, she has taught us all one very important lesson: love. Despite battling leukemia for 3 years, she has always found it within her to make her situation more than about herself. Her campaign to raise awareness and advocate for bone marrow donors was for the love of her fellow human."

A website named "We Did It" noted that Liang's plea led to more than 300 donor drives, more than 20,000 new registrants and 18 matches for other patients. Through the power of social networking, the site says Liang's story led to South America, Asia, Europe and Australia.

Mohr Elementary science teacher Mikki Conley, who was diagnosed in December 2010 with lymphocytic stage 4 lymphoma and was also a focus for blood marrow drives in Pleasanton, died on April 4.

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Like this comment
Posted by Shelby
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I am so sorry to hear this..My heart goes out to her family and friends. She will be dearly missed

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 12, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Sad to hear this. Rest in peace, brave and beautiful young woman.

Like this comment
Posted by Hailey Nguyen
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I watched her video & cried. I don't cry about anything. It was the saddest thing ever. I saw Victor Kim's video & Aj Rafael's video. She'll be missed by not only her friends & family, but by everyone. She is a true inspiration. These are big words coming from a 13 year old. Rest in paradise Janet<3

Like this comment
Posted by Asian Ptown Resident
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

Although I was not able to participate in the blood drive due to health issues I am so happy to hear that others became aware of this cause and that Janet was an inspiration to many Asian/Americans in Ptown and around the world. Your dream did come true, you have taught even an old lady like me the value of being selfless.

Thank you

Like this comment
Posted by Melanie
a resident of Val Vista
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

My cousin was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 4 and died at 13. We never found a match for him. I know that almost everyone would try to help a family member or loved one if they needed a match, but imagine the power behind helping a family you don't know. Bone Marrow transplants aren't what they use to be. Rarely do they need to tap into your spinal cord for marrow. A majority of cases are blood in, blood out machines that are simple and pretty fast. Recovery time is minimal. Don't be afraid. Your temporary discomfort, could mean a lifetime for someone.

Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Shieh, MD
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

Janet's fight against cancer encouraged hundreds of people on Guam to become new registered donors. Her plea for help echoed thousands of miles across the Pacific to our island and her inspiration will lead to many other lives saved. For that, Janet is a hero just like our island's 5 yr old Justice Taitaigue who also inspired thousands from Guam to become future bone marrow donors. Many families are grateful for their personal pleas and inspirations. Our deepest condolence to Janet's family.
We will continue to fight the good fight against Cancer.

Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Hosterman
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I only met Janet once, when she was awarded the Pleasanton Community of Character award earlier this year for her work in registering hundreds of people as potential bone marrow donors. Her presentation was nothing short of inspirational! I understand her family has incurred a great deal of debt due to Janet's lengthy illness. It would be nice if her community could come together once again to help out her family. I believe this link leads to an opportunity to contribute in her memory.
Web Link
Thank you all, in advance, for your generosity. Pleasanton is indeed a caring community!

Like this comment
Posted by Trying to help
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 14, 2012 at 1:26 pm

You can donate towards her funeral expenses via Paypal using her sites' email address as teh recipient.

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