BENICIA -- Cara Hansen has no hair these days because of nearly continuous chemotherapy, but she has plenty of good cheer for anyone who enters her hospital rooms where she's fought for her life the past two years, her stepfather said.

Hansen, 22, a Benicia High School graduate, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Conventional chemotherapy is no longer very effective, her stepfather Brian Harris said. She now needs a bone-marrow transplant.

To give her a fighting chance, the family is holding a bone marrow drive from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church Benicia, 1055 Southampton Road, to try to find a match.

The event will include a bake sale, silent auction, fire engine, carwash and fun stuff for kids. Admission is free, but donations will be sought to help cover bone marrow transplant costs not covered by insurance, Harris said.

Potential donors will get their inner cheeks swabbed to see whether they are a match for Hansen or others waiting for a match. People ages 18 to 44 are asked to participate. Anyone older than 44 can still participate but is asked to pay $100 to cover processing expenses, Harris said.

Hansen's most recent hospital stay at UC San Francisco is going on 40 days now, Harris said. There, she will undergo more chemotherapy and await news of a possible bone marrow transplant, Harris said.


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Hansen was attending Diablo Valley College and taking dance classes when her battle against leukemia began. Harris said she began to bruise easily and had so little energy she could barely get out of bed. She grew up in Benicia, attending Joe Henderson Elementary and Benicia Middle School.

Tests confirmed the leukemia, which usually affects children much younger, he said. After rounds of chemotherapy and blood transfusions, she relapsed in August.

Hansen is also in near-constant pain and, because of the painful tingling in her feet and legs from the chemotherapy, she can't walk and gets around in a wheelchair.

Despite all she's been through, Harris said his stepdaughter always has a smile for people and has befriended many others battling cancers at the hospital, including a young woman who became a good friend before she died last year.

When she gets through this ordeal, Harris said Hansen wants to be a counselor and help other children with debilitating diseases.

Besides Harris, Hansen's mother, PeggySue Harris, and her sister, Bonnie Hansen, have been at Cara's side at the hospital throughout her ordeal.

how to help
To learn more about Cara Hansen and the Bone Marrow Drive, go to www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-cara-s-cure-with-bone-marrow-transplant-costs/83715.
Cara also is writing a blog and posting on Facebook at "Cara's Cure"
Those who want more details can call Brian Harris at 707-590-9000.