Brian knows firsthand the devastating impact of hearing your loved one has cancer. After months of bruising easily and feeling more fatigued than normal, Brian’s wife, Adria, went to get a full blood workup and was eventually diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disease in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells.
In August 2021, doctors told Brian and Adria that the MDS had advanced so rapidly that Adria’s only option for a cure was a blood stem cell transplant. While their son turned out to be a matching donor, he came down with mononucleosis shortly before the scheduled transplant and was no longer able to donate. So, they proceeded with the transplant using their daughter’s blood stem cells. Sadly, the transplant was unsuccessful.
Then, in February 2022, Adria received her second transplant from an unrelated donor. After four long and tiring months in the hospital, she was finally released. Today, her doctors are hopeful for a smooth recovery and a 100% cure.
Activity with purpose
After losing more than 100 pounds several years ago, Brian began setting goals for himself that would push him to stay active and motivated. He’s participated in countless marathons and triathlons over the years, finding ways to help others during these races.
“I had the idea that I wanted to give back. I thought what better way than to take something I already enjoy doing and raise money at the same time,” Brian said.
Last year, he teamed up with nonprofit, NEGU (Never Ever Give Up), that helps children with cancer. But this year he wanted to share his effort with another organization. So, Brian is dedicating his multiple triathlons, half-distance IRONMAN races, and a full-distance IRONMAN race this year to raising money for Be The Match®. He has a goal of $7,000 and is already off to a fantastic start.
“Be The Match has given so much to my family, so I wanted to be able to give back to Be The Match.”
Brian's inspiration to keep going
In between her two transplants, Adria tested positive for COVID-19. This was especially dangerous since she had absolutely no immune system—yet, she fought the fight. Looking at everything Adria endured, Brian considers her a walking miracle.
He explained how Adria serves as his inspiration to keep going during the tough parts of his races and training. “My wife had a 10% chance of living and she didn’t give up—so, I can’t give up.”
He keeps his eyes fixated on his NEGU bracelet when he’s training and participating in his races. “When it gets hard and I feel fatigued and ready to quit, I will look at my Never Ever Give Up bracelet and get inspired to keep going,” Brian said.
You can help patients like Adria too. Donate to Brian’s Be The Match fundraiser.
About Be The Match ®
Over the past 30 years Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), has managed the most diverse marrow registry in the world. We work every day to save lives through transplant.
We have facilitated more than 111,000 blood stem cell transplants and 6,287 transplants last year to give patients hope for a future.
As the recognized leader in unrelated marrow transplantation, Be The Match continues to develop services and interactive technologies used by transplant experts around the world to reach more patients.
We also continue to lead the way in developing new cellular therapies, in advancing services to speed the transplant process and improving treatments for post-transplant complications. We invest in dedicated researchers whose countless hours in the lab and caring for patients have helped more patients than ever before receive a transplant.
About Brian Smith
Brian serves as MSN Healthcare Solutions Chief Technology Officer and has been with the company since 2011. Prior to joining MSN Brian trained Bomb Detection Dogs in Afghanistan for almost 2 years in the Qalat District of Afghanistan. He also served as a Police Officer for 10 years, where he served as a K-9 handler and learned to train dogs.