An uncles poignant and loving tribute to his niece after she died following a seven-year battle with Hodgkin Lymphoma has led to life-saving stem cell and bone marrow donations.
Dr Melissa Baker, a single mum of two and forensic pathologist from Melbourne, died on January 16 – just two days after her 45th birthday.
In her memory, Melissas beloved uncle Max Tomlinson placed her photo and information about how to become a stem cell donor on his rear window in the hope of carrying on her hard work.
In memory of my beautiful niece Dr Melissa Baker. You can save a life, dont let Melissas be in vain. Order your swab kit now. Ideally men aged 18 to 45 with diverse backgrounds needed urgently. Order your kit now urthecure.com.au, it reads in white marker pen.
Melissas beloved uncle, Max Tomlinson, placed her photo and information about how to become a stem cell donor on his car’s rear window. Source: Facebook
Melissas sister, Jenni Baker, recently posted a picture of Mr Tomlinsons car on Facebook while thanking a member of the public who tucked a yellow flower under his windshield wiper.
Melissa, whos kids are 13 and 8, waited for a bone marrow match for years after an initial six-month round of chemotherapy didnt work, Jenni, a Melbourne police officer, told Yahoo News Australia on Friday.
She underwent a bone marrow transplant using her own stem cells but it almost killed her when she developed a lung infection, her sister said.
Doctors told the 45-year-old, who had since developed cancer of the bone marrow as a result of the chemotherapy, she desperately needed a donor and so she began advocating for UR The Cure.
The volunteer-run charity works with the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry (ABMDR) to increase the number of donors especially middle-aged people of diverse backgrounds.
Melissa, whos kids are 13 and 8, waited for a bone marrow match for years after an initial six-month round of chemotherapy didnt work. Source: Facebook
Reluctantly, in November 2019, she underwent a more risky half-match stem cell transplant where I was her donor, Jenni said.
The odds werent great but she had no choice.
Tragically, after 58 days in the hospital, most of which she spent on a ventilator, Melissa died on January 16.
Jennis Facebook post about her uncles tribute has garnered more than 2,500 likes and hundreds of comments, many of which are people who said they had since signed up to be a stem cell donor.
I was a bone marrow donor for my dad. Unfortunately he passed just four months after the donation. I would do it again in a heartbeat for anyone who needed it, one woman wrote.
Beautiful! Tell your uncle I just ordered my kit! another said.
A woman named Amanda also commented, revealing she had been one of Melissas nurses.
I dont know if you remember me. I am one of the nurses who took care of your sister in the ICU. I always admired how much support Melissa had from you and your sister. Her life is definitely not in vain and the love she had from you all was so strong, she wrote.
Melissa Baker underwent a bone marrow transplant using her own stem cells but it almost killed her when she developed a lung infection. Source: Facebook
Jenni said Melissa never thought in her wildest dreams this would happen and had at one point thought the cancer would be a battle she would have to fight throughout her life.
The 47-year-old police officer told Yahoo News Australia Melissa became upset when she was often told she had the good cancer because of Hodgkins higher success rate.
She was so mad about it she even made a blog called I Got the Good Cancer documenting her struggles and treatments.
And then everything bad that could have happened, happened, Jenni said.
Jenni (right) and Melissa (left) are pictured together in front of Parliament House. Source: Facebook
The mum-of-two spent last Christmas intubated and sedated in hospital but was able to squeeze her childrens hands when they came to visit.
When the tubes came out on Boxing Day, Melissa mumbled to Jenni, Im scared. This is really scary.
They were the last words Melissa said.
Just two days later Melissa was ventilated again until the tubes were removed on January 14 – her birthday – after deciding it was too cruel.
Fifty-two hours later she passed surrounded by her parents, siblings and children.
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