Vanderbilt Fraternity Helps Brother Fight Cancer

Vanderbilt Fraternity Helps Brother Fight Cancer

CREATED Apr 21, 2014
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Brotherhood extends far beyond family ties at a Vanderbilt University fraternity. The Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity is holding a donor drive after a type of blood cancer impacts one of their own.

“We grew up in totally separate paths because we are so different and we became closer as we got older,” Ben Sataloff said about his twin brother John. “We look similarly I guess, but most people are shocked that we're twins.”

They're fraternal twins. What they don't share in appearances is definitely made up by their tight bond.

“He's currently a senior at Amherst College in Massachusetts,” Ben said about John. “He's pre-med chemistry major and he was diagnosed with lymphoma last May.”

“He kind of kept it to himself until he really needed his friends to help out,” fraternity brother Jake Lever explained.

Ben is a senior at Vanderbilt University. Hundreds of miles away from his twin, Ben was looking for ways to help out after numerous treatments didn't work.

“We had treatment after treatment that looked promising. It went into remission at one point. Which makes each blow sort of that much more difficult to cope with,” he said. “But there's still hope in the next treatment.”

John needs a stem cell transplant to cure his aggressive form of blood cancer. That’s why Ben's fraternity brothers are organizing a donor drive at the Alpha Epsilon Pi House this Tuesday.

“A few of us said lets streamline, integrate. Let’s come up with a strategy,” Lever explained about their efforts to contact Vanderbilt students and staff. “You got over 1.7 thousand people invited to this (Facebook) group. You have 436 people going.”

“It's simply takes a Q-tip, swab your cheek, put it in a sterile envelope, that's it. You sign a consent form,” Sataloff said about the process. 

He tried it himself, but despite being a twin, he was not a match. Maybe someone else in the Vanderbilt community and beyond will be.

“This disease has a very high probability of death and so we're still trying to find a good donor,” Sataloff said.

In this case, brotherhood isn't restricted by blood. It's the bond of friendship that may help find a cure.

“We are so eager to fight because we know that these things are beatable,” Lever said. “Working together does make a difference. We've seen it ourselves.”

Representatives from Be The Match, the national bone marrow registry, will be at the donor drive to help collect samples. If you're a match for John, you will be asked to donate blood that will allow for him to have a transfusion. If you're not a match, you will still be entered into a national database that could help someone else.

For more information on the AEPi Donor Drive.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
12:30 - 4 p.m.
209 24th Avenue South