Love and laughter in the time of chemotherapy
In April of 2014, Manjusha Pawagi — a Toronto youth and family court judge, writer, and mother of 11-year-old twins — was diagnosed with highly aggressive leukemia.
She had chemotherapy. She had radiation. Nothing worked. She was desperately ill.
Just six weeks after she was diagnosed, she was told that her only hope was a high-risk stem cell transplant. And the odds were heavily stacked against her.
Manjusha's South Asian origins meant that her chances of finding a matching donor ranged from one in a hundred thousand, to one in a million.
It's a miracle. A match was found.
In 2007, Jay Sethna, a 20-year-old from Staten Island, New York, had attended an Indian community gathering in a hotel. He sang, he ate, he mingled.
And on his way out, along with all the other young men, he was asked to give a swab — a simple DNA sample for New York's stem cell registry. He agreed.
A Q-tip was rubbed on the inside of his cheek, and off he went.
And forgot about it — until 7 years ago, and a phone call that would change his life.
As soon as she was able, Manjusha set out to find the anonymous donor who saved her.
This week we reprise Alisa Siegel's documentary, "Manjusha Meets Her Match." It was first broadcast exactly a year ago, and was recently honoured with a Gabriel Award.
Jay Sethna will travel from Staten Island, New York, to attend the book launch in Toronto this November.
Together, they will celebrate the third anniversary of the stem cell transplant that saved Manjusha's life.
Click 'listen' above to hear the documentary.