In May 2014, Shira Klein happily celebrated two big days with friends and family: Her birthday, and the 1-year anniversary of the stem cell transplant that gave her a second chance at life.
Shira’s journey began on New Year’s Eve 2010 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while on vacation with her husband and three young children. Despite this devastating news, Shira kept smiling.
After enduring months of intense chemotherapy, and multiple relapses, Shira needed a stem cell donor. Her sister was not a match, and none could be found on the bone marrow donor registry. In hopes of finding Shira a matching donor, her husband, Justin, along with family and friends joined together with love and support to launch the Smiles4Shira Facebook page and website.
For Shira, the toughest part of each day was staying strong in front of her children – but they were also her greatest motivation. “The idea of not being able to be a part of their lives made me wake up every day, no matter how I felt, and give it my all,” she said.
In the meantime, the Smiles4Shira team gave it their all -- working with DKMS to swab and register as many people as possible.
In May 2013, Shira received the greatest Mother's Day gift of all - a lifesaving transplant from her mother.
Shira’s transplant was a success and today, Shira is a survivor. Smiles4Shira is still hosting drives -- motivated by the belief that every patient deserves a second chance to live, love, and be with their family. In the first two years, Smiles4Shira registered more than 10,000 potential donors, resulting in more than 110 matches for patients. The fact that Smiles4Shira is helping to save the lives of other mothers, fathers, sons and daughters is something that keeps Shira smiling every day.
“As my husband’s mother was known to say, ‘There is a lid for every pot,’” Shira explained. “We will not stop until every pot has a lid, one smile at a time.”