Amherst man fighting cancer, again

Darrell Cole
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Wilson asking for help in search for bone marrow transplant

Shelley Brown pours a drink while Rod Wilson looks on. The 41-year-old Amherst man launched a campaign on social media urging people to consider becoming a blood marrow donor. He was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the second time and needs a transplant. 

AMHERST – Rod Wilson is in for the fight of his life and he’s asking for some help.

After being in remission for nearly two years, the 41-year-old Amherst man recently learned his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has returned and is much more aggressive than the last time he fought cancer.

To raise awareness of the need for bone marrow donors, Wilson has turned to social media asking friends to spread the word about becoming a donor in hopes a match will be found him or someone else needing a transplant.

“The response has been tremendous. I put it all out there two weeks ago on Facebook and since then there’s been hundreds of shared statuses, likes and photos from people who’ve received their envelopes in the mail,” said Wilson, who has restarted chemotherapy and remains optimistic a donor match will be found. “It’s nice to know people care. It’s a bit of a long shot but if you don’t try there’s no chance. It’s easy to do, you swab your mouth and you could save mine or someone’s life.”

The manager of Amherst’s Doolys was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma three-and-a-half years ago. After 18 months of chemotherapy he underwent a stem cell transplant in which his own bone marrow was transplanted.

The operation kept in remission until several weeks ago when he noticed a lump on his chest. He checked with his doctor and after a series of tests was told that his cancer had returned and it was much more aggressive than the first time.

“After the transplant in September 2010 I thought I had it licked. It took me a few months to get back on my feet but after that all my tests came back good ,” Wilson said. “Even as of April 30 I was given a clean bill of health and then two weeks later I was laying on the couch and noticed a bump on my chest.

“It’s one thing to face it once, but to face it twice. You think everything’s great and you’re in great shape and then you have a setback.”

Unfortunately, he’s not able to use his own bone marrow this time and needs a transplant.

Wilson said there 32 million people in the bone marrow registry, but there are more than 750 Canadians on the waiting list for a match.

“There are a lot of Rod Wilsons out there who have kids and want to live. If we can add more names there’s a better chance of someone not being in my situation,” he said.

Wilson gets emotional when describing why he’s fighting. He said one of the reasons he’s fighting is for his eight-year-old daughter Maci, who he said he wants to see grow up. He said he talked to his daughter about his cancer and while her tears broke his heart they also gave him the strength he believes he needed to get ready to fight the disease.

He’s urging people between 17 and 35 to consider becoming a donor by going to or calling Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-2DONATE. Blood services will send the potential donor a mouth swab kit that can be mailed back.

Even if people don’t qualify to be donors because of age or other reasons, Wilson said the need is also great for people who can donate platelets and blood that’s needed during the transplant process.

He said his doctor wants him to have a transplant in three months.

Until then, he said, he’s going to keep a positive attitude.

“I think a positive attitude is vital to fight this thing,” he said. “There are days I don’t want to get out of bed, but I do. I try to be upbeat, because being down isn’t going to help me. I’m going to fight this and they can poke and prod me all they want.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Canadian Blood Services

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Recent comments

  • Darlene brundage
    August 26, 2013 - 20:02

    Thoughts and prayers go out to you Rod you can beat this.I am sorry I can not be a donor I have a illness that they can not use any of my parts Sorry God Bless!!

  • J. Mara
    August 24, 2013 - 12:27

    I too am apparently too old to donate the bone marrow but do donate blood regularly so hoping it helps in some very small way. Sending every good wish and prayers to you and every one who is battling. Kick cancer's ass Rod!!!!!!

  • Dan MacIntosh, Oxford, NS.
    August 23, 2013 - 13:29

    Rod, I was tested for my sister to be a donor, I was found to be a perfect match for her, I am 57, she is 65. I do not get the age thing, but that was a couple of years ago. I would definitely do a swab if you thought it could help. Good luck, you will win this. My sister Marilyn Mitchell has been fighting this for 12 years and is still winning. Feel free to contact me anytime. 1-902-664-7553. I will give you any info I have.

  • Liz
    August 23, 2013 - 08:08

    You can beat this Rod. Thoughts and prayers coming from here. I am too old but passing the word on each and every way I can.

  • Hurricane Rita
    August 23, 2013 - 06:35

    Wishing you win this battle again..not sure if I'm able to be a donor as when I tried to give blood .. filled in the part about being on thyroid pills.. they wouldn't accept my blood. No- negative thoughts as the mind is a powerful tool and as you know is needed to win the war this time.

  • Lindsay
    August 22, 2013 - 15:59

    You beat this once and you WILL beat it again with your family, friends and community behind you all the way!

  • Jack On The Rocks
    August 22, 2013 - 14:03

    The best of luck to you Rod...beat this for you and your family..

    • Deb
      August 22, 2013 - 21:35

      Good luck Rod - I hope you find your donor. I'm too old for the marrow registry and can't donate blood because I'm only a couple months past chemo and radiation myself - so I really hope you get what you need to beat this again!