Group 4 Created with Sketch.

Snippet of Code Switch: Finding 'A Perfect Match'

Play Audio
Add to Playlist
Share Report
Found on these Playlists
An Audio Tour of NPR's Podcast Network Experience a brief audio sampler of NPR's most popular shows and podcasts across their network.

No matter what kind of stories you're looking for, chances are NPR has a podcast just for you. From daily news coverage on the latest economic and political developments to radio comedy shows, and even historical deep dives on cultures and institutions sparking insightful conversations about societal issues, it's not difficult to find a show for whatever may interest you.
Vurbl All The News You Need
Full Description
Back to Top
Two close friends both suffered from the same aggressive form of cancer. After years of treatment, one lived and the other died. And while many variables factored into what happened, the woman who survived — reporter Ibby Caputo — couldn't help wondering what role race had played in the outcome.
Back to Top
Okay. My name is Terry Cohon, and I'm from the beautiful country of Jamaica. I just want to see that I'm happy to be here. I'm happy that I met Eddie Caputo. She is very moody at times, but she understands my crazy. So we're perfect being to my yang, literally black and white. Oh, e could listen to Tariq Aziz laugh again and again. I'm maybe Caputo the into her gang, the white to her black trick. And I called ourselves Blood Sisters because we were a tight knit support group of two. In the nine years we knew each other, there was one story we would tell every time we saw each other. The story of how we met. Okay, let's just tell this story. It's tell the story. I walk in, I'm very tiny. I'm shaky and I have a cane and involved. And she or those horrible key Mozz should me know. And I was wearing my favorite bright pink sweater because I wanted to look good for my doctor. Horrible cliche. It was 2000 and eight, and I had just walked into the blood lab at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston for my weekly blood check. Whenever I saw someone in the waiting room around my age, I tried to sit next to them because it's lonely being a young adult with cancer. So I sit down and I'm like, I like your style And so I say Tunks on. Then I realize she's not gonna understand. I said Thank you because that was Patra And then I look and I see her wristband and I'm like, she's sick on I said, It's not my usual clinic day. I'm here for a consult for transplant on she said, Oh, I did a transplant, too. Actually, it was more like That's what I just did. And she's like, I did not expect this at 26 and I gave her to look like What the hell? My friend looked old. I thought I looked like a 12 year old. No, you mean I looked like an 82 year old like, Yeah, you look told you Look, I wouldn't guess 26 twenties would never be in my mind. So I'm like, Oh, my God, This is what I'm going to go through. His horrible And I was like, Oh, my God, I just totally scared this woman. She's not going to get the bone marrow transplant now, and she's gonna die of leukemia. Trica was also 26 at the time, and she had the same type of aggressive leukemia that I had had. The only cure was a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant. And then you said, Don't worry, everybody is different. You make me sound better than I sounded. It was more like everybody's different on. So I think it made me feel better in the sense that it's a good thing you mentioned all the issues you had. But then you are still hopeful. So it's like worst case in our catch. All ish, then. Okay, I'm still here. Soon after we met, Erica did have a bone marrow transplant. She was the only other person I knew who understood what it was like. The side effects of transplant, the puffiness of steroids. We could talk about it all, and we made each other laugh because e Oh, the bone marrow is the factory for making the blood. Cancer had infiltrated our blood, and the only way to rid ourselves of that cancer was to get a new factory. For us, that meant injecting blood stem cells from a healthy donor which would create new marrow. That new marrow would then make blood that was cancer free way. Both receive stem cells from anonymous donors. Men we did not know. We talk about them sometimes. I was fascinated that I now bleed my donor's blood complete with his DNA and X Y chromosomes. My blood is male. What is it like for you having somebody else's blood run through your body? Do you think of it as his blood? Or do you think of it as your blood? Oh, no. What, what? Whose blood? The recovery from transplant is long and complicated. After seven years, I was finally emerging from the side effects. But Tariq A was still in the thick of it. She wanted to meet her donor in person, but not yet because I've been roller coasting through my health. I'm looking for a time where I'm looking good. Never want to meet your donor looking like this is what my blood did to you. It should be like this is what my blood did and why? Why do you want to meet him because I wanna touch him. I wanna hold it. I want 11 for the rest of my Ah, Uh huh. That kind of song. Creepy. Why? I want to meet him. I think it would be awesome for him to see what I look like in person. And like the life he saved, he his blood saves you. His blood saved me. When you get a bone marrow transplant, what you're really getting is a new immune system. So it affects your whole body and there are opportunities for things to go wrong. Trica didn't end up meeting her donor because she never completely recovered from transplant. In 2017, she died after her death. I thought a lot about our donors. My donor was a German man. He and I were a so called perfect match, meaning all of the immune system genes that the doctors checked for in me were identical in him. This is important because the better the match, the less likely your new immune system will attack your own body. Tariq a didn't have a perfect match, but she did have a really good match. Ah, match Her doctors told her would work and it did work. Her new bone marrow killed the leukemia. And those of us who loved her got to spend nine cancer for years with her. But she was also plagued by the side effects of transplant, which is a risk that comes with the potentially lifesaving cure. My own doctor has told me I'm fortunate to have emerged relatively unscathed, and this is true. But it's also true that is a white person. I was three times more likely than a black person to find a perfect match. After Tariq's death, I wondered about this glaring disparity and how it plays a part and who is more likely to live and who is more likely to die from blood cancer. What I found is an all too familiar story, really.