12-Year-Old Cancer Patient Celebrates Birthday by Raising Awareness - NBC4 Washington

12-Year-Old Cancer Patient Celebrates Birthday by Raising Awareness

Young cancer patient wants to raise awareness about bone marrow donation.



    12-year-old Mathias Giordano is working to make things better for others while fighting cancer. News4's Prince George's County reporter Zachary Kiesch has the story. (Published Friday, June 13, 2014)

    Many kids celebrate the beginning of their teenage years by seeing PG-13 movies with their friends, but Mathias Giordano is choosing to celebrate his by raising awareness about bone barrow donation.

    The cause is close to Mathias' heart. More than a year ago, the avid soccer player began complaining that his shin hurt. Just a month later, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

    Since his diagnosis, Mathias endured a leg amputation below the knee, three lung surgeries, radiation and more than 25 rounds of chemotherapy.

    Throughout his battle, Mathias saw first-hand how difficult bone marrow transplants can be.

    “A couple of people I know needed a bone marrow transplant and it was hard for them to find a bone marrow donor,” he said.

    For his birthday, Mathias said he wanted to spread awareness about this struggle.

    On June 14, the day Mathias turns 13, Be The Match, the nation's largest bone marrow donor program will be offering free testing and registration at the first annual Team Mathias 1K Family Run and Fun event at the Village at Leesburg.

    Friends and family of the young survivor came up with the event to help the Giordano family offset hospital bills not covered by insurance as well as travel expenses for things like gas, tolls and hotel stays during Mathias' treatment.

    Family friends Emily Kelly and Linda Long contacted Be The Match about participating in the event. The group was eager to be there.

    “Education is really a huge part of what we do and community engagement is really important to us,” Be The Match Community Engagement Representative Grace Huber said. “That’s where we get our donors. That’s where we get support financially. So we try to be at every local event that we can."
    Mathias says he is "excited to see how many people come out to the event to become a donor."
    The event starts at 9 a.m. and is followed by children's' activities including games, face painting, raffles and live music. Finnegan's Sports Bar and Grill will host an after party, and 15 percent of its proceeds will go to Team Mathias.
    Visit the fun run's website for more information, to sign up and to donate.
    Some things to know before you donate:
    • Be The Match is looking for donors between the ages of 18 and 44 to join at no cost. Research shows that younger donors cells are more viable for long-term survival after transplant.
    • Donors between the ages of 45 and 60 that want to join the bone marrow registry must do so online at www.bethematch.org and click on the Join button. They will be asked to make a $100 payment to cover the cost to join.
    • Patients are more likely to match someone who shares their diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Individuals of black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, including South Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander or Hispanic or Latino descent are encouraged to join.All donors go through an extensive pre-screening process to ensure they are healthy and that the procedure is safe.
    •  There are two methods of donation that are chosen by the patient’s doctor: peripheral blood stem cells, the most common of the two, is a non surgical procedure where the blood is removed intravenously, and bone marrow donation, a surgical procedure that involves withdrawing liquid marrow from the back of the pelvic bone using a needle.