Giving of himself to help another battle cancer

Pat Gagan 20

On Saturday, October 12, the UC Pioneers were victorious in more than just the scoreboard as they took on St. John Fisher in the third annual Believe Bowl, to benefit cancer patients and children.

Why is something like the Believe Bowl so important to the UC Football team?

Just ask Pat Gagan ‘20, former left tackle for the Pioneers, currently serving as assistant offensive line coach for the team. A business major from Pittsford, NY, Pat gave of himself to help someone fighting cancer, literally.

When Be The Match, the global leader in bone marrow transplantation, came to the Utica College campus in search of possible bone marrow donors, 120 Pioneers stepped up to be tested. 

Then Pat got the call.

Three physicals and four rounds of bloodwork later, physicians determined that he was indeed a good match for a 22-year-old male with leukemia. The patient had exhausted chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and Pat was his last hope. 

Pat, along with his dad, flew to Washington for bone marrow donation surgery at Georgetown Medical Center. It’s a serious surgery, as surgeons drill into the donor’s pelvis and remove 1.5 liters of bone marrow. 

Uncomfortable with any personal notoriety, Pat tells this story only so others will be tested and will consider donating as well. The initial test is a simple cheek swab; if someone matches a patient at 70% or more, the medical team will ask for bloodwork.

“I can’t say enough about the doctors at Georgetown, The Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation and Bethematch.org,” he says.

The feeling is mutual.

"The Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation is so honored and proud of your selfless commitment to give someone a second chance at life," representatives of the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation posted to social media. "Thank you Pat! And thank you to UC Football for your continued support!"

Pat credits his parents and the way he was raised for his generous nature. “I didn’t think twice. I couldn’t go to sleep at night if I said no to someone’s last shot.”

Honoring volunteer firefighters and families facing a cancer illness, as well as the children of the Thea Bowman House, a non- profit organization in the city of Utica helping the most vulnerable children in the community and their families unlock their full potential, the third annual Believe Bowl was played at Gaetano Stadium on October 12. 

The Pioneers won against St. John Fisher College 34-28. Special fundraisers at the event benefited the Believe 271 Foundation for firefighters battling cancer, and for children of the Thea Bowman House.

For more information on bone marrow donation, visit bethematch.org.

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