EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 17, 2014

A mother's quest

Andover's Tina Habeeb trying to help find stem cell match for daughter with leukemia

ANDOVER — Tina Habeeb admits, at 71 years old, she a was a rookie.

The Andover grandmother and mother of three adult children had zero experience with bad health.

“Absolutely none ... with me, with my children,” said Habeeb. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was.”

Then nine months ago, her only daughter, Cathy Sheehan, who is married (Tim) with three children (Audrey, 13; Nicole, 11; and Ethan, 7), complained of always being tired.

“I told her, ‘No kidding! You work five jobs!” recalled Habeeb, referring to her daughter’s job as account manager with Hewlitt-Packard as well as her part-time work teaching spin classes for 11 years at Latitude Sports Club in Salisbury.

After returning from a vacation and still struggling with fatigue, Sheehan went to the doctor on a Friday for blood tests. The doctor immediately ruled out mononucleosis but told her further testing would occur over the weekend.

On Monday, while at the hairdresser, Sheehan’s doctor called her cell phone and told her that she had leukemia and needed to get to the hospital immediately.

Fast-forward nine months later.

Habeeb read with great interest an inspiring story in The Eagle-Tribune two weeks ago about a 22-year-old Plaistow native who gave up the end of his college track career to go through the painful process of donating two quarts of bone marrow to a complete stranger with hopes of curing a rare form of leukemia.

As hoped, amazingly, the stranger has been completely cured.

It’s a story Habeeb, prays will be written again some day soon about her daughter, who is married and mother of three children in Boxford, and has Acute Myeloiad Leukemia.

But it’s not so much the happy ending that drove Habeeb’s interest, it was early in the story, when the young man, Cam Lyle, went to a “Be The Match” bone marrow registry drive at UNH and gave a “swab” from the inside of his mouth.

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