“I will fight for my life.”
That’s 12-year-old Briana Lopez, a New Jersey native who’s currently battling leukemia. The young Latina was first diagnosed when she was 11, which forced her into chemotherapy, surgery, and months in the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. Then, Lopez and her family were overjoyed to hear the words that ever cancer patient is waiting for: she was cancer-free.
Unfortunately, Lopez relapsed back in December, and is left with finding yet another bone marrow donor. This means putting her schooling, her basketball games, and her love of Bruno Mars on hold. Briana’s mother, Yanine, as well as the rest of her family, is using Briana’s story as a way to raise awareness for bone marrow transplants. Currently, only 4% of Hispanics are registered on the transplant database — a small number considering the thousands of people who are actively looking for a match. “Every time we have an opportunity, we always talk about this reality. We would like those numbers to increase dramatically,” Yanine explained. “We need to educate our community about the importance of registering as a bone marrow donor. There are so many people who die waiting for a match, and Hispanics have less of a chance to finding one due to the lack of Latinos on the registry.”
Lopez’s parents both quit their jobs to care for their daughter, and went a step further by shaving their heads in support of “Bri Strong." “This has been a very long and tough journey — and for this support we will always be grateful. It is hard enough living each day knowing that your child has a rare form of cancer. Everyone's kind words, prayers and positive vibes have helped us keep it together even on our darkest and hardest days. There are just no words to describe my sincere gratitude for all the support that has been extended to us.”
To join Briana’s marrow registry, visit bethematch.org/bristrong.