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


In fact, tomorrow’s drive is one of several that have been done in Sheehan’s name. More than 50 people showed up at one in Newburyport, 300 people at Latitude’s in Salisbury and 70 people at Hewlitt-Parckard in Andover. A Hewlitt-Packard in New Mexico and another on a college campus in North Carolina were inspired by Sheehan’s fight.

All of the “swabs” go to a national registry.

The drive at Sheehan’s workplace in Salisbury proved fruitful as a match for another leukemia patient was found.

“Obviously, our goal is to find a match for Cathy,” said Habeeb. “But that’s why we are doing this, for awareness. We want to educate people about this illness and find as many donors as we can.”

The process at Latitude Sports Club tomorrow takes about 15 minutes, said Habeeb.

“You come in, sit down at the table, fill out the form, talk to the Dana Farber representative to make sure you’re eligible by asking a few questions, like ‘Have you been out of the country recently,’” said Habeeb. “They want to make sure you’re a candidate.

“Then you open your mouth. You swab yourself,” said Habeeb. “And you’re good to go. It’s that easy.”

Habeeb said she is holding out hope that somewhere, some place a donor for her daughter, Cathy, will be found.

“This experience has been an eye-opener,” said Habeeb. “I was unfortunately very ignorant about this, about a lot of things like blood and how everybody needs blood and that the platelets only have a shelf life of five days.”

As for her daughter’s daily fight, it’s just that ... a fight.

“This has been very difficult for Cathy, for her husband and kids ... for all of us,” said Habeeb. “But she wants to go through with this and do everything she can, even though the doctors wonder if she can handle it. She has a family and she wants to be with them.”

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