Stem cell recipient and her family inspire thousands to #BeAHero

  • Match found
Gail Stewart outside with family


You could save a life like Gail Stewart’s.

Join the stem cell registry!

Hockey is the heartbeat of Gail Stewart’s home. With her husband Dave a coach, and their four kids playing competitively, carpools, puck drops and the whistle of the referee are all part of the rhythm of everyday life.  

But in early 2022, devastating news broke that rhythm. Gail — seen in the photo above with her four children — was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The family’s focus immediately shifted to her health, including her need for a stem cell transplant.  

Gail is so thankful for the donor the registry identified for her. 

“The reality was none of my siblings were a match. Someone who doesn’t know me saved my life,” says Gail. “I don’t think people realize the impact of what they’re doing just by signing up for the registry — how much hope they’re giving people.”  

She’s also grateful for the support of the hockey community during her treatment and wait for a transplant. Not only did the sport keep the family grounded through an uncertain time, but players all over the Maritimes rallied their teammates to join the stem cell registry in Gail’s honour.   

In fact, Gail’s story inspired 2,000 young people to sign up. At any time, any one of them could be matched to another patient in need of a stem cell transplant. And after her own transplant, Gail is hoping to inspire more. Along with the wider hockey community, and long-time national partner for Life, Hockey Gives Blood, the family is encouraging everyone between the ages of 17 and 35 to join the stem cell registry. 

Knowing that the majority of patients rely on unrelated stem cell donors, and that the best hope of a match is often a person of similar ethnic background, Dave and others saw Join Gail’s Fight as a way to support all those searching for a match.  

“The support from our network reaffirms that our community is one of good people that want to help other people,” shares Dave. “It’s important that we continue building a culture in society, where joining the registry when you’re eligible becomes the norm.” 

Learn more about stem cell donation, and register if you are between the ages of 17 and 35. You won’t just make a difference. You’ll make all the difference. 

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