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How a Young Cancer Survivor Inspired His Community to Show Up

In a single moment, life as we know it can change forever. For Oliver Israel, this moment seemed to come with no warning.  

As a student at Boston University, he played on the ice hockey team with aspirations to go professional. After returning home from a weekend long hockey tournament, Oliver’s biggest worry was getting through exams so he could return home for Thanksgiving break.

Sudden diagnosis

Noticing leg pain from the tournament, he scheduled an MRI for the following day. Instead of learning the cause of the pain, Oliver was told he needed to go for more testing to confirm the results. He quickly agreed, concerned only about the impact of an injury on his burgeoning hockey career.

When the results came in, he was called into the hospital where a doctor entered the room and delivered life-changing news. Oliver had leukemia and would need a bone marrow transplant.

“This is the instant where my amazing and blemish-free life totally get flipped on its head,” says Oliver.

With the help of his family, he set up a drive to hopefully find himself a donor and spread awareness about blood cancer. Out of the hundreds of people that registered, one young man that was inspired was Oliver’s friend, Noah. Fortunately for Oliver, he was found a matching donor already on the registry, got a transplant and is now preparing for graduation in the spring.

Rallying friends

When Noah Friedman heard about the donor drive happening for his friend and teammate, he knew he had to do everything he could to help. “I didn’t exactly know how to process it so I did whatever I could to be there for him and show my support,” says Noah.

A few months later, Noah got the call. He was a match for a young girl. Even though he didn’t know anything about the patient, he didn’t think twice when the time came to help a person in need.

Noah and Oliver now share their own experiences in order to encourage people to help others battling blood cancer and join the registry. “My mother taught me that one of the most important things you can do for someone struggling with illness or loss is simply to be there and show up,” says Noah. 

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