Jefferson High School student Jarraye Hicks, 15, lost his battle with cancer this week. He died quietly in his sleep the night of Jan. 23.
A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Philadelphia Baptist Church, 238 N.E. Mason St.
Hicks, a gregarious, outgoing young man, had battled the disease since June 2005, when he was diagnosed after an especially long period of flu-like symptoms. A blood test indicated acute myelogenous leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow in the tissues that manufacture blood cells.
When anti-cancer drugs proved to be ineffective, Hicks was placed on a waiting list to receive a bone marrow transplant. Matching bone marrow donors are notoriously hard to find, even more so when a match isn't found in the recipient's immediate family. About 70 percent of potential recipients are forced to look beyond their closest relatives for a compatible donor.
Marrow and blood-cell transplants require matching certain tissue traits of the donor and patient. Because these traits are inherited, a patient's most likely match is someone of the same heritage.
Hicks agreed to serve as a symbol for the recent Portland Red Cross blood and bone marrow drive, and his story was featured in The Skanner and other publications to encourage people to donate blood and sign up as potential bone marrow donors. A place of honor was reserved for him at The Skanner's 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast, which he was unable to attend due to the pain and discomfort that accompany hiscondition. Unfortunately, a donor couldn't be found in time.
Hicks' symptoms only allowed him to attend Jefferson part time, but he remained popular with his fellow students, known for his sense of humor and outgoing personality. He was an artistic person who enjoyed dancing, writing rap lyrics and creating hand-dyed blue jeans for friends and family. He maintained a dream of becoming a real estate mogul and a hip-hop superstar.
A recent passion was snowboarding,asport Hicks fell in love with after his first time on the slopes. He was able to go on a car trip to Mt. Hood on the Friday before his death, although he was in a great deal of pain.
For more information on the National Bone Marrow DonorProgram,visit www.marrow.org. A pressing need exists for more donors from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, particularly within the African American community, to increase the likelihood of finding a match for patients.