When he isn't dreaming of becoming the next star player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Marcus Cato is thinking of ways to finance the invention of the next iPhone. Marcus' love for baseball and big business dreams are just two of the reasons why he hasn't stopped smiling these past few months, despite having to play a new game he had no plans for - the fight against leukemia.
Three months shy of his 21st birthday, Marcus Cato was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a blood cancer that is all too common amongst young people. What started off as one family's devastating news has turned into a community wide effort to defeat the disease. Though two rounds of chemotherapy have put Marcus in remission, he needs to find a bone marrow match for the best chance at a long, healthy life.
Since Marcus is half African American, he faces a particularly difficult battle in trying to find a potential bone marrow match. Currently, only 7% of potential donors on the bone marrow registry are of African American background. Since ethnicity plays a major role in HLA typing - the tissue typing that determines if someone is a match - Marcus faces a unique challenge in trying to find a match.
His compelling story has inspired support from a number of athletes and teams, including a personal visit from NBA player Quincy Pondexter of the New Orleans Pelicans, a Fresno native. He even received a signed jersey from his beloved Dodgers, along with a letter of encouragement from them. Marcus' wit, charm, and continual optimism in the face of his challenge have helped him through the first leg of his journey. But to win this game, he'll need our help.
The overwhelming amount of support has meant everything to me," says Marcus. "Every day since the day I was diagnosed I have received texts, emails, phone call and visits, and I feel very lucky to have so many people that love and care about me.