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


Two years later, he was found to be match for the man with leukemia.

Today, Habeeb’s daughter, Cathy, 44, who grew up in Methuen, is at Dana Farber hospital dealing with the daily struggles of having the potentially deadly blood disorder.

Tomorrow, from 9 to 11 a.m., a “Be The Match” registry drive, in Cathy’s honor, will be taking place at Latitude Sports Club in Methuen, near “The Loop.”

“That story really gave us hope,” said Habeeb, of the story on Lyle, who was named Eagle-Tribune Sportsman of the Year on Jan. 2. “Like a lot of people out there with this form leukemia, Cathy needs to find a match.”

One difference between Cathy’s illness is that she needs stem cells rather than bone marrow. The process of removing stem cells from an individual is much easier than bone marrow, which requires an overnight stay in the hospital and takes a long recovery for the donor.

Cathy’s younger brother, Chistopher Habeeb, was deemed a match and donated stem cells in the summer. The process usually takes about 100 days before being deemed a success. At Day 85, it failed, due to the presence of a bad gene (FLT3), which can make the leukemia worse.

She was back to square one.

“It’s not like having your appendix out and you deal with the pain or a certain part of your body,” said Habeeb. “This is your blood, all over your body. Every day is a new day with new challenges,” said Habeeb. “(Monday) was a tough day. (Tuesday) was a better day. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been around.”

Currently, there is no match in the national registry for Sheehan.

Habeeb’s energy has been geared towards visiting her daughter every day in Boston at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and promoting the “Be The Match” drive.

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