Snohomish Sheriff’s deputy fighting rare, deadly illness, and you can help
Molly Thunder, 27, started her dream job as a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy in 2017. Less than a year later, she started feeling really fatigued — so much so, that she ended up in the ER. First, they suspected leukemia, but it turned out to be aplastic anemia.
“Basically it’s like a bone marrow failure disease, so your bone marrow isn’t making red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets like it should. It’s either not making them at all or at a really slow rate,” Thunder explained.
It’s a very rare illness, even more rare in someone Molly’s age who was otherwise healthy. It is often fatal.
Molly has only two chances for a cure: First, an immuno-suppressant treatment called ATG she is going through now, which is basically lots of blood transfusions. She’s had 40 since December, mixed with medications.
It takes three months to figure out if this treatment is working and she’s about halfway through. She has one shot because you can only get the treatment once.
“If this treatment doesn’t work, the bone marrow transport is the only other cure,” Thunder said.
Either way, a transplant is her best shot. But first she has to find a match. That’s why Molly’s sergeant organized a Be the Match registry event this Thursday.
“He does this for people all the time — I’m not the only one at the sheriff’s office who’s gone through something like this, so he’s kind of our support for that, but a little overwhelmingly the bigger it got. I wasn’t expecting it to be hundreds of people wanting to show up,” Thunder said, referring to the upcoming registry event.
Be The Match is the largest marrow registry in the world, and Molly is hoping it can help not just her but others in need of a lifesaving marrow transplant.
“There’s a lot of people who have multi-ethnic backgrounds or, the black and Asian communities are really low represented on the registry. So, why not use the chance we have to grow for those people because there’s people out there who need it a lot quicker than I do,” Thunder said.
All it takes is giving a cheek swab.
“It takes five minutes out of your day and whatever you’ve heard about bone marrow donation – it’s really not that bad,” Thunder explained.
“It’s a couple needles and that’s way better than letting someone die,” she added.
Molly is, of course, hoping to find her own donor and if and when she does, it’s still a long road ahead with six months of recovery and intense chemotherapy.
“I always joke I don’t want to lose my hair, but I mean there’s thousands of people who get cancer and go through it. I’m not the only one so if they can do it, I can,” Thunder said.
The registry event is Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office South Precinct in Mill Creek, 15928 Mill Creek Blvd, Mill Creek, WA 98012.
To donate, you have to be between the ages of 18 and 44, committed to donating to any patient in need, and be in good health. If you are unable to attend the event, you can find out how to register online here.