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Organizer of bone marrow drive preparing for transplant

Rochester, N.Y. -- After seven grueling days of chemotherapy, Debbie Milgate-Moyer said she is doing okay.

She is more concerned about getting people to the bone marrow drive, which she organized.

That was before she learned her brother, Tom, was a perfect match. He will donate stem cells to her during the transplant. It should take place at the end of November, if all goes well.

After spending the last few weeks undergoing chemotherapy to kill off the cancerous bone marrow to prepare for that surgery, Milgate-Moyer said she has seen patients waiting for donors and it breaks her heart.

"As I walk these floors, the hardest part is walking by rooms of someone waiting for what I have. Some have waited six months, others have been waiting a year for a transplant."

These are the people Milgate-Moyer hopes may be helped by the bone marrow drive Tuesday.

She has transformed her room at the Wilmot Cancer Center into home, bringing her own recliner, a handmade quilt for her bed and placing pictures of her family all around her.

Even in the hospital she stays connected on Facebook and through email. Updating people about the drive and the TNT Explosion event which she organized to benefit the Golisano Children's Hospital.

That event is in memory of her brother Tim. It is also held to remember an infant who died, Taylor Brush. Her parents are friends of the family.

That will be held Saturday November 2 at Pier 45. Milgate-Moyer reminded people that they had to buy their tickets by Tuesday night and that 500 tickets had already been sold.

Milgate-Moyer said though she won't be at the events she organized, she will be there in spirit and via Skype.

She will have a biopsy Thursday to determine if the chemo has successfully killed off the cancer. If so, she can go home for a few weeks before undergoing another round.

She said her brother Tom called her to tell her: "Merry Christmas, I am your match."

That after finding out he could be her bone marrow donor. It will be an emotional gift of life from her oldest sibling. Tom's son was killed by a drunk driver back in 2005.

Tragedy has struck this family more than anyone should have to endure. Brother Tim was murdered in 1995 and the killer has not been caught.

Milgate-Moyer said this has made them stronger and strengthened their bond.

She hasn't lost her sense of humor either. She joked with nurses that she still had her hair for this week anyway, that after being told she would lose it in another week.

 
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