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June 26 , 2007
DH 07 JH
Actor/Filmmaker Alumnus to Present Work and a Cause at San Diego Film Festival
Carson, CA – Jerome Williams (Class of ’91, B.S., business administration/computer information systems) will be a presenter at the San Diego Film Festival on Wednesday, June 27. His talk on the public service announcements he filmed using high definition video will carry more than the latest technical information: Williams, who is of African American, Native American and French descent, has chronic myeloid leukemia and is in need of a marrow donor to save his life. The PSAs, which are presented in conjunction with the City of Hope, are part of the Web site TeamJerome.org that aims to build an awareness of the unknown but overwhelming need for marrow donors of color.
“Before I came down with this, I was an actor,” he says. “I’m still an actor and was thinking about making my own films as a way of getting noticed, so that’s what I’m doing. I was asked to present because of my knowledge of HD, but also because of the message in the PSAs.”
Williams’s campaign to educate minorities about the ease with which they can become potential marrow donors has made it to YouTube.com and MySpace.com via supporters who are spreading the word. The Toluca Lake neighborhood council member is pleased with the response to the PSAs and the level of support that has resulted from them.
“When you talk to people, they’re blown away when they learn how easy it is to help,” says Williams. They ask, ‘That’s all it takes?’ There are people out there who want to help. The Web site gives them a place to go and do that.”
Potential donors are encouraged to register with the site and send for a test kit with information and equipment needed to supply the City of Hope with a sample of cheek cells; bone marrow donor eligibility can be determined with the brush of a cotton swab inside the mouth. They must be between 18-60 years of age and free of any conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
The pervading misconception of marrow extraction by a needle inserted into the spine will hopefully be put to rest through his and other efforts, Williams hopes. There are now two procedures used to donate marrow or blood stem cells, either through collecting blood through a sterile needle or the removal of liquid marrow from the rear of the pelvic bone using a sterile needle and syringe. Both methods are outpatient procedures with temporary aftereffects such as bone pain, headache and lower back discomfort.
Williams has contributed his story to Breaking the Silence: Inspirational Stories of Black Cancer Survivors by Dr. Karin Stanford (Lancaster: Gazelle Book Services, Ltd., 2005).
“Dr. Stanford is trying to dispel the myth that black people don’t get cancer,” notes Williams. “When the doctor told me, I was shocked. I told the doctor that diabetes runs in my family, not cancer. I later found out that cancer does run in my family; my grandfather died of it two years ago, and his siblings also died of cancer.”
TeamJerome.org was inspired in part by the efforts of a California State University, Dominguez Hills advertising copywriting class last fall. The instructor, Chris Russo, came upon Williams’ story in the student newspaper, The Bulletin. He proposed that the class design a campaign to find a marrow donor for him as their final project. Russo marvels at the selfless way that Williams is approaching the search, looking not just for a donor for himself, but bringing an awareness to the public of the difficulty that people of color have in finding cures for the incurable.
“For a guy who doesn’t know how much longer he is going to live, he’s got such a positive message,” says Russo. “He provided the class and me with so much inspiration by not putting his own situation at the forefront. No matter what happens to him, he is concerned with what happens to others in the future.”
Dominguez Hills - University Communications & Public Affairs
Contact: Brenda Knepper
1000 E. Victoria Street
Carson, CA 90747