Bone marrow drive is March 16

By Melanie Threlkeld McConnell | Mar 10, 2014

Rebecca Atkins Wiley has been married for 34 years, has three grown sons, has worked for 20 years as the financial secretary for First United Methodist Church in Waynesville and has been free from breast cancer for 15 years – all important milestones.


But the number that matters most to Wiley right now is the number one. She needs one good match for a bone marrow transplant to help cure her from the acute myeloid leukemia doctors discovered in her on July 5 of last year. And she may have the match; she will know in a month or so.

In honor of Wiley, her friends and co-workers at First United Methodist Church are hosting a Community Bone Marrow Registry Drive from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 16, in the Faith Classroom of First United Methodist Church, 566 S. Haywood St., Waynesville.  “The drive won’t necessarily help me, but it will go into a bone marrow bank for others in need,” Wiley said. The bank or registry is a national registry, which means all donations will be available to anyone in the country who needs a bone marrow transplant.

People ages 18 to 44 are invited to stop in, fill out some paperwork and provide a mouth swab, a very easy process, said Emily Melrose, an organizer of the event. “Your name will be put into the registry and if you are a match you will be contacted and led through the donation process. If you are unable to donate, you may make a monetary donation to cover the administrative costs associated with new members in the registry,” she said. Monetary donations may be brought by the church office. You can also go to for more information.


The leukemia, she was told, likely was a result of the chemotherapy she had for her breast cancer. “It’s very tiring,” Wiley said. “I’m in remission and my numbers are good right now, but if the leukemia comes back it will be harder to put back into remission.”


Wiley is a 1979 graduate of Tuscola and a graduate of Haywood Community College. Her house is filled with music from her husband, Gary, a former member of Sons of Ralph and a current collaborator with Asheville-area musicians Dave Desmelik and Vollie McKenzie. Her son Grady was an All-State drummer throughout high school and now leads the contemporary service at Central United Methodist Church in Asheville.


Wiley said her family, especially her husband, has been her rock. “I’m thankful for the support of my family and my church family,” she said.


For more information, call the church office at 456-9475.

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