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Creekside CI inspires colleagues to Be The Match

Mike Rush is a crisis intervener at Creekside School. He comes from multiple generations of Monroe One staff, but his family extends throughout the organization in the form of his colleagues and students.  

“You never know when you can’t help anymore.” It’s a sentiment Mike Rush shared in a video he recorded driving to and from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo; A cathartic diary-entry of sorts that sparked a whole lot of good.  

Roswell is where Mike is being treated for chronic myelogenous leukemia, an unexpected diagnosis he’s been living with for months now.  It all started with a pain in his left side. He went to urgent care, and when that didn’t yield any answers, Mike turned to his doctor. It could have been a blockage causing his pain, but after some blood tests it became clear that his white blood cell count was high. A prolonged trip to the Emergency Department confirmed the concern he saw in his nurse’s face.  

June 15, 2022 was the day Mike learned he had cancer.  

“You get this tunnel vision. You know, you think not me, not me. I have two kids that need me. I have a girlfriend whom I love, and she has a little boy whom I love, and your mind just goes to walking them down the aisle and grandchildren, their wedding and their college graduations, all sorts of stuff and your mind just spirals.” 

Then came treatment and a necessity that Mike didn’t know if anyone would be able to help him fill. He said he was suddenly in a position where he was just taking and taking, a feeling that is uncomfortable to him as his natural instinct is to provide for others.  

Because of his recent diagnosis, he will never be able to give blood or bone marrow in the capacity so many can right now. He recorded that realization in a message and felt like it was one that he needed to share.  

Mike didn’t intend to start a movement at Monroe One, but that’s exactly what happened through “Be the Match.” It’s a campaign that connects people diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers with a donor match. “Be the Match” is managed by the National Marrow Donor Program, and it’s become the most diverse marrow registry in the world. Joining the registry and completing a quick mouth swab could help save a life.  

Many of Mike’s co-workers, the people he considers his Creekside family, got tested right away. But it was his son, also a Creekside employee, who turned out to be a partial match. That’s all that is needed to give the stem cells Mike needs, and the procedure is now just days away. 

On his 22nd year with Monroe One, Mike Rush is full of life. He’s been a CI for 7 years now, but he’s been walking these halls since he was 7 years old, coming to work with his mom. He's been blown away by the support from his co-workers, especially on the days he’s not feeling his best. Wearing a shirt that says, “In this family together we are strong” Mike reflected that the peaks in life are only amplified by the valleys that we all encounter.  

He’s encouraging everyone to go donate if you can. “Sign up. It’s not a huge toll on somebody’s body to donate stem cells, you know? And don’t do it for the attention. Just do it to be a good person.” 

Beginning on December 1, Mike and his son will prepare for the procedure, scheduled for next week.