Sisters Embracing Life, a group of cancer survivors and friends who educate minorities about the disease, celebrated eight years of service and fellowship on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The event took place at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, where they also host their monthly meetings. Julie Santos, bone marrow representative with Lifesource Blood Center and Midwest commissioner with League of United Latin American Citizens, explained her participation.
“We were invited by Sisters Embracing Life and feel very blessed to be here today to bring a message of a crisis in our community,” Santos said. “I represent the Latino and African-American community and there is nothing minority about us.
“The lack of the education for us, I think, is the key in educating our people. We are empowering them with the knowledge to know that it is within our own ethnic background, our own heritage that can save each others lives.
“We have so many Latinos and African-Americans dying from leukemia,” Santos added. “It is us that is going to save each other. And when I speak at different events, I tell people there is a project called the Genographic Project and you need to go to that, because it is so important.
“Because every single human being on this earth, no matter what ethnic background you come from, birth place is the continent of Africa. So there are African-Americans that can save Caucasians and reverse, so I think it is the creator’s ironic way of putting us together.
“Black donors are an urgency and I’ve lost many patients. I met a little boy five years ago who came to me with a very poor Xerox copy about the national marrow donor program in the English language, which his parents didn’t speak, and he asked me to help save his life and help keep his parents save.
“I looked at this copy and decided not here, not in this great nation. There should be no boundaries weather it is language or culture. We need to start registering in the donor program. There are six million people in the national marrow program. Less than 480,000 are African-Americans and less than 400,000 are Latino, Asian and Native Americans. There is no reason for this.
“The national marrow program provides grants for every Latino and African-American to be tested for free. It is time for us to educate ourselves and start saving each other’s lives.”