Janet Liang, a Chinese American born and raised in California was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 22 during her fourth year at UCLA. With the help of her friends, Janet founded Helping Janet, a grassroots initiative aimed at mobilizing ethnic minority communities to register their marrow in 2009. Helping Janet shortly became a global movement, reaching out to Asians across the United States and the Chinese-speaking regions of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, by utilizing social media.
The organization has since registered over 20,000 new donors and found 18matches for blood cancer patients.
On January 21, 2012, while at the hospital, Janet uploaded a video plea on Youtube asking Americans, particularly those of Chinese descent, to register for the marrow registry. In the plea, Janet said.
” I’m so afraid of dying. It feels like I don’t have much time left. And I realize that I’m afraid I’m dying because mostly I’m afraid of what I’m leaving behind. “
The plea became a viral video after a posting on Reddit and has garnered some some 380,000 views. This video also garnered the attention and advocacy of Asian American internet celebrities and musicians including Far East Movement, Wong Fu Productions, Kevjumba and the cast of White Frog, including Harry Shum Jr., Booboo Stewart, BD Wong, Joan Chen and Amy Hill.
In June 2010, Janet went into remission after a battery of chemotherapy treatments. One and a half years later, she relapsed in December 2011.
In June 2012, Liang found a 9/10 marrow match from a 29-year-old male. She received a marrow transplant on 5 September 2012. Sadly, owing to complications from chemotherapy, Janet passed away six days after receiving a marrow transplant, on September 12, 2012 before the new stem cells could engraft.
We sent our condolences to Janet’s family and sincerely hope that her legacy will live on.
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