UNITY — A Maine warden whose colleagues put a new roof on his home this week are now working to find a cure for his cancer.

Wardens are organizing a stem cell donor drive for Maine Warden Service Maj. Gregory Sanborn, who has cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and needs a matching donor transplant to survive.

Tim Peabody, former colonel of the Maine Warden Service, who is organizing the event, said that Sanborn has responded to calls for help for 23 years and now is a good time for Mainers to return the favor.

Be The Match Foundation, the Unity College Conservation Law Club and the Maine Warden Service Relief Association are taking part in the drive 12-4 p.m. Friday in the college gymnasium on Quaker Hill, where Peabody is an associate professor of conservation law.

Peabody, who was Sanborn’s sergeant in the Sebago Lake region in the 1990s, raved about Sanborn’s professionalism and work ethic.

“If there was a call for service, Gregg was there,” Peabody said. “He would take care of whatever the situation was. He’s given his entire adult life to the state of Maine and he deserves all the help he can get right now.”

Sanborn needs stem cells from a genetic match. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a rare form of cancer that results in tumors and infections.

According to the Be The Match Foundation, which seeks to match patients with donors, 70 percent of people don’t have a compatible donor in their family.

Sanborn, 46, noticed symptoms of the disease about a year ago; today he’s working with doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and at Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta.

Treatment is “kind of in maintenance mode until we get word for sure we’ve got a stem cell donor,” Sanborn told the Kennebec Journal on Monday.

“One thing about me being a game warden is I’ve lived all over the state and (have) friends and acquaintances all over,” said the Sidney resident.

“People are coming out of the woodwork trying to help me, and we’re getting more people on the registry to help me and help others in the same predicament.”

Peabody said Unity College is a natural place to hold a stem cell drive because of its base of 500 students and its conservation law program.

Peabody said his goal for the stem cell drive at Unity College is twofold.

“I’d like to see a match for Gregg and bring awareness that there are a number of people like Gregg out there, and maybe we’ll help others down the road,” Peabody said.

Sanborn is finding that he has a lot of people willing to help him out.

Earlier this week, a group of friends and colleagues stripped, wrapped and shingled 2,700 square feet on his home. Sanborn had planned to do the work himself, but his battle with his illness make that impossible.

Last week, Peabody attended a stem cell drive in Orono hosted by the University of Maine football team and Sanborn’s warden peers.

Peabody said it took about 15 minutes to fill out the requisite health questionnaire and do a cheek swab to join the Be The Match Registry.

There is no cost to join; a donation is requested to defray the approximate $100 associated costs.

In the United States, one of every 540 members of registry ends up donating bone marrow or blood stem cells to a patient, according to Be The Match. Each year, 10,000 patients with blood cancer need a transplant from an unrelated donor. According to the registry, about half receive one.

To join the approximately 9.5 million members of the registry, people must be between 18 and 60 years of age and meet a number of health requirements.

Conditions that exclude potential donors include having an HIV diagnosis, significant brain injury, serious breathing problems, most forms of cancer, heart disease and stroke. The list of conditions can be found on registry website, www.marrow.org.

People who join the registry, either online or at Unity College, are not under any legal obligation to donate if they are found to be a match. But those thinking of joining are asked to carefully consider their decision. If they are found to be match and decide not to donate, the decision can be life-threatening to a patient waiting for a transplant.

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]

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