Monday, May 16, 2022 |
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photo submitted by Brookelyn Basuel
Brookelyn Basuel and Brian Sagocio at Kokee.
LIHUE — A California man has another shot at life thanks to Kapaa’s Brookelyn Basuel.
Brian Sagocio, a 24-year-old from Santa Clarita, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in December 2013 when he was 19. The cancer starts in white blood cells and attacks the immune system.
He underwent chemotherapy and radiation throughout 2013 and in 2014 he donated stem cells to himself in an autologous stem cell transplant. After six months of remission and a relapse, Sagocio needed more stem cells to survive.
“That’s where Brooke came in,” Sagocio said. “She donated her stem cells for me and saved my life.”
The 37-year-old mother of four signed up to be on the Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry when she was 18 and then continued on with life with no response for nearly 20 years.
“It’s easier to win the lottery than it is to find the perfect bone marrow match and this one was close to perfect,” Basuel said. “I was so surprised when I got the phone call because I forgot, but I was totally on board.”
Six months within receiving the phone call, the procedure was complete and Basuel was recovering from a surgery she says, “wasn’t that bad.”
“They do four holes in your lower back, my bone marrow was too thick so mine was six holes. It took six hours, and it was quite a process,” she said.
Tami Takenaka, Basuel’s sister-in-law, was one of many who supported Basuel through the procedure, and she said it was inspiring to watch her family member save a life.
“You know, she said if she could save a life, she’d do it, but if she could save a mother from having to lose a child, that’s amazing, too,” Takenaka said.
Basuel echoed the sentiment. She said she thought about how she would feel if one of her kids needed a life-saving surgery.
“No questions asked I would do it again,” she said.
A year after the surgery, Sagocio was in remission and was feeling strong enough to schedule a trip to Hawaii — right about the same time Basuel decided to reach out and try to talk with him.
After the go-ahead from the Bone Marrow Registry and the green light from Sagocio for contact, the two started exchanging emails.
They soon realized Sagocio was scheduled to be in Hawaii during an annual Basuel and family Kokee camping trip. They decided to meet.
In June, Sagocio and his mother drove up the Waimea Canyon and met the woman who saved his life.
“We just talked and shared our stories and gave each other little presents,” Sagocio said.
Takenaka was at the gathering and said she noticed little signs that this meeting was destined long before Sagocio and Basuel began their journey together.
“Brooke has a dog named Sparky and they have a dog named Sparky,” she said. “That’s just one little example. They had so many things in common. I believe God connected them far earlier than they even knew.”
After a few hours of talking story, Sagocio and his mother continued on their journey through Waimea Canyon and continued on to the Kalalau Lookout and the rest of his life.
“I’m really thankful to have met Brooke,” Sagocio said. “It’s something few cancer survivors get to do.”
And for Basuel, the takeaway is that everyone should put their name on the Hawaii Bone Marrow Registry.
“People should try to help whoever they can in any way possible,” she said.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at email@example.com
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