An Unforeseen Shot
As a tennis athlete, Carl "Chip" Stam always needed to be prepared for whatever unexpected shot his opponent may serve his way. But for Chip, the hopes of remission and the set backs of recurrence have become all too close of a resemblance to the game he so dearly loves.
For Chip, tennis has been a way of life ever since high school. But after one 2007 match, prolonged and intense back pain brought news he did not expect. In July 2007, Chip was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in his spine and ribs - life had suddenly served him a ball that brought great uncertainty and the need for love and support.
That same month, he began chemotherapy and radiation treatments, moving him toward remission. About one month after his diagnosis, Chip created a CaringBridge website after one of his former choral students suggested he check it out as an easy way to keep family and friends updated on his progress. "To be able to put a health update on CaringBridge allows me to reach a huge support team immediately. I am so thankful to the former student who pointed me to the site when I was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma," says Chip. Now, with the ability to easily communicate with a huge family network and former students all over the country through his site, Chip is able to experience the love and support he needs.
Hope in the Unpredictable
Things were now looking up, and throughout 2008, Chip and his family anticipated the idea of him becoming "cancer free." But in January 2009, a PET scan revealed recurrence, calling for aggressive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Nine months later Chip underwent another scan, showing the need for additional intense chemotherapy and a second stem cell transplant.
Throughout his health journey, Chip continued to use his CaringBridge site to provide updates on his progress, but he also found a creative way to use this resource. He posted an invitation for others to help in his search for a stem cell donor. While looking for a stem cell match, he and his family decided to host a stem cell drive, which they posted information about on his CaringBridge site.
"I think it's largely because of the CaringBridge network that we have been so successful in our stem cell drive," says Chip. "Concerned and connected folks have helped to gather over 1,773 new DNA samples for the registry." Through CaringBridge, Chip not only found the emotional and psychological support he needed, but also a means to reach hundreds of people at once, which meant a greater chance of finding a donor match.