June 24, 2018
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Stem cell match found for Maine game warden

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Maine Game Warden Maj. Gregory Sanborn has spent the past couple of months going to work, heading to numerous appointments with doctors and waiting for the call that could save his life.

Last week Sanborn, who is battling cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a form of cancer, received that call.

After stem cell donor drives across the state on his behalf, and worldwide on the behalf of others, a match for the 46-year-old Fryeburg native has been found.

On Saturday Sanborn, the deputy chief of the Maine Warden Service, attended the Rangeley Lakes Region Moose Lottery Festival, where he served as a judge for the moose-calling contest.

Sanborn broke into a huge grin when asked if there was any news about his donor search. “Actually, there is,” he said, explaining that he planned to talk to his fellow game wardens before he broke the news in a more public forum.

On Tuesday, the Facebook page “Friends of Greg Sanborn” posted the text of a letter that Sanborn sent them. Here’s some of what Sanborn had to say in that message:

“I was notified by Dana Farber [Cancer Institute in Boston] that a match has been found,” Sanborn wrote. “Under the rules of ‘Be the Match,’ the only information that can be released to me for one year is that the donor is a male, 26 years of age. At this time I do not even know what state or country he is from. Staff at Dana Farber tell me that this profile is a very good match for me and increases the chances of a successful stem cell transplant.”

Sanborn said he and his doctors have a plan of action that will be initiated next month.

“As it stands right now, I will be admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital on July 9 to start the stem cell transplant process,” he wrote. “As I understand it, the first eight days I will be receiving high doses of chemotherapy and radiation and will only be semiconscious. The goal of that is to kill all cancer cells.

“On day 8, I will be receiving the donated stem cells that will rebuild my immune system that the first eight days of treatment has completely destroyed,” Sanborn wrote. “The donated stem cells are my lifeline. I will need to be in isolation to protect myself from infections until my new immune system is strong enough, usually about a year.

“It will be a long year before I can resume ‘normal’ activity and go back to work. I will miss seeing everyone at the [Fryeburg] fair this year, but I’ll catch up with everyone next year. My doctors say if this works, I’ll be trading one year for 30 more good ones. I’ll hang onto that in the days ahead,” Sanborn wrote.

UPDATE: Click here to read a more recent story with comments from Sanborn.

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