'Be The Match Run+Walk' kicks off Saturday in Chicago

It’s as simple as a cheek swab and your signature on a consent form, but it could save the life of someone who's fighting a blood cancer. 

Every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and a lot of those affected get a second dose of disappointment when a family member isn't a match for life-saving marrow. But that's where you come in.

“We were treating it as a flu the first few days I was in the hospital,” said Johann Castillo.

Castillo was just 27 and a father of two when doctors dealt him some awful news. His white blood cell count was through the roof, which is indicative of leukemia.

“It explained a lot, all the night sweats, all the weight loss, tiredness and sickness all the time,” Castillo said.

None of his five sisters or his brother were a match. So, Castillo turned to a marrow donor list and two months later, the database hit: a mother who'd donated her new baby's umbilical cord.

“This was the only match in the country that I had,” Johann said.

Castillo’s story is what he hopes inspires you to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement for the ‘Be The Match Run+Walk’ at Montrose Harbor. 

“What it allows us to do is raise funds so we'll be able to add more donors to the registry and also helps patients in need with uninsured costs and research,” said Lauren Johnson.

Each step is progress in the right direction for supporting this life saving cure for blood cancers, like Castillo’s. He never met his donor, but says he owes his life to her; a miracle match that started with a simple swab of a cheek.

“Every person I've ever met that's donated would do it again in a heartbeat,” Johnson said.

To be clear, landing on the registry doesn't mean you'll ever actually donate, but if so, there are two ways to do so. One is a simple technique that's like donating plasma or platelets, the other is a same day surgical procedure, where you're put under anesthesia, but those are for more severe cases.

The ‘Be The Match Run+Walk’ kicks off Saturday morning at 8:30. You can still sign up! Just head over to bethematchfoundation.org.