QUEST Alumna Saves Life
By: Joseph Piscitelli
Most people in the QUEST community know Cheryl Rosenberg as a Q20 alumna with many great accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom. However, most don’t know that on top of all of her accomplishments thus far, she has also done something beyond accolades and awards: saved a life.
Rosenberg’s 23rd birthday was definitely one of a kind. She’s never been one to place special emphasis on birthdays, but this birthday was like no other.
On this day, she was scheduled to donate her peripheral blood stem cells to a 65-year-old man suffering from Non-Hodgkins’s Lymphoma. She didn’t know much about him, just as he had limited knowledge of her, but Rosenberg was eager and excited to follow through with the procedure.
It all started in the summer of 2010 when Rosenberg was working as a lifeguard at a camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. In order to get more people on the registry, her camp held a drive for the cause.
“All I needed to do was swab my cheek so it really wasn’t a big deal and there was no commitment to donate should I be called as a match,” Rosenberg recalls.
Years passed by, and Rosenberg never received a call. Even though she knew the odds that she would be a match were low, she stayed hopeful and optimistic she could one day give the gift of life.
“I always hoped I’d be a match but I figured it was a long shot and much like winning the lottery, it probably would never happen,” says Rosenberg.
Then, towards the end of her senior year at the University of Maryland, Rosenberg received the call she waited over four years to receive. She was filled with excitement. While her parents were nervous, they never stopped her or tried to halt her in following through. Cheryl had no doubts she was going to donate.
“Once I was called, I didn’t second guess my decision for a second. I knew I had an amazing opportunity on hand to save a life. I wasn’t going to let that pass.”
The call came at a defining moment in her life, having just graduated from college and begun her transition into the real world.
“I got called at the end of my second semester senior year and was able to donate over the summer before I began working. I didn’t need to take off any time from school or work.”
For Rosenberg, the process’s timing was beyond perfect. Additionally, as she transitioned to the next chapter of her life, the process of donating helped propel her for her next encounters.
“The whole process has made me more aware of how important the seemingly little and very easy things are to do for another person,” says Rosenberg. “I barely gave up anything of myself to donate and I was able to make such a huge impact. Small things like a smile or putting yourself in another person’s shoes and trying to help make their life a little easier often doesn’t do anything negative for you, but makes a huge difference for someone else. I try to keep that lesson in mind every day.”
Rosenberg is now working as a Business Technology Analyst for Deloitte Consulting in New York. Due to laws, donors and recipients are not allowed to keep in touch and must remain anonymous for a year. Through the organization, A Gift of Life, her recipient sent her a thank you letter, and Cheryl followed up. However, this upcoming summer, marking the one year anniversary of the procedure, Rosenberg hopes to connect with her recipient.
When asked what someone considering donating should know, Rosenberg said: “I would first let people know how easy it is to get on the registry. It’s just a cheek swab, that’s it. If a person is nervous about the process they can always register and then worry about it and make a final decision if they are ever a match. There is no commitment to donate even if you’re in the registry. The organization has so much information and resources available to you and make the process so easy and simple.”
For more information about getting on the registry or donating to Gift of Life, check out their website: http://www.giftoflife.org/