After fighting in two wars, a Hawaii National Guard soldier is in a fight for his life against leukemia.
After another successful return from Afghanistan, the soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard were hit with bad news once they were home.
"It was a shock when we got back from Afghanistan and Mr. Bagay was diagnosed with leukemia," said Maj. Byron Cadiz with the Hawaii National Guard.
During their year-long deployment, the Hawaii Guard unit was responsible for ferrying supplies, equipment and soldiers in and out of hostile territory. WarrnneeBagay was one of the pilots of the Chinook helicopters.
"He's a great pilot and every time I flew with him I wouldn't worry about anything. I would always be safe," said Spc. Roselani Kaluhiwa, with the Hawaii National Guard.
Now soldiers in his unit are trying to return the favor. They are taking time as they adjust to civilian life to sign up to be a bone marrow donor.
"Mr. Bagay is a fighter. I believe he will beat this disease eventually. We're here to support him and to find a match," stated Cadiz.
Donors and patients who share the same ancestry are more likely to be a match. But of the 11,000,000 registered donors, less than 7 percent are Filipino, like Bagay.
Bagay's family and friends are also signing up in the hopes that one of his siblings will be a match. His sister Josephine tells KITV Bagay is still in good spiritsbut the diagnosis has hit the family hard, "We just lost our grandmother last year. For him to come home and tell us, it was shocking. We also lost our mother to cancer, so it is tough."
Bagay's cancer is in remission right now, but doctors still want him to undergo the bone marrow transplant.
But the Hawaii National Guard soldier needs help in his fight against cancer.
"He's done so much for our country, he's a great person. He's done so much, we should give back," added Kaluhiwa.
In addition to the numerous bone marrow registry drives held throughout Hawaii, people can also sign up at home. Testing kits would then be mailed to a potential donor's home. For more information, go to www.bethematch.org/join.