TVF&R crews invite public to join them for national registry drive Saturday

Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue invites the community to participate in a bone marrow registry drive on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event will be held at the fire district's Station 50, 12617 S.W. Walnut St., in Tigard.

Members of the community willing to register for the National Marrow Donor Program can join firefighters and district staff in an effort to address a critical shortage of donors on the registry — especially donors with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. By becoming a member of the registry, you could be a match for a patient in critical need. You could be the one to save a life.

To participate, all it takes is a simple swab of the cheek to determine if you are a match for someone fighting the devastating impacts of cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The TVF&R family is all too familiar with the impacts of cancer. Since 2008, four firefighters have succumbed to the disease. Firefighters are exposed to carcinogenic contaminants from fires and hazardous materials incidents. These contaminants include combustion by-products such as benzene and formaldehyde, and materials in debris such as asbestos from older structures.

Currently another retired firefighter is battling cancer and is sharing his story to raise awareness about the national bone marrow registry while he still can.

In March 2013, Dan Schrader was enjoying his first year of retirement after 35 years in the fire service when he started feeling weak and knew something wasn't right.

He saw a doctor and was initially diagnosed with Bells Palsy, but his symptoms continued to progress, and he began losing weight at a rapid pace. After seemingly endless scans and tests, doctors discovered Schrader had cancer and gave him 60 days to live.

"Dan has a huge heart, and after 35 years of saving lives, he is now fighting for his own," said Stefan Myers, a fire district spokesman. "He has gone through chemo treatment and made progress in getting rid of some of the cancer, but will likely need a bone marrow transplant."

Joining the registry is easy, Myers added.

• Meet the age (18-44), health, and weight requirements and be willing to help any patient in need.

• Complete a registration form with contact information, health history questions, and a signed agreement to join the registry.

• Give a swab of your cheek cells so your tissue type can be added to the registry.

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