CANCER patient Chris Melbourne needs a "miracle" to survive, but the person who can save her might not even know it.
The mother-of-one has been diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkin's lymphoma, which will continue to attack her body until she receives a bone marrow transplant.
Finding a suitable donor is a one-in-a-million chance but Mrs Melbourne, 54, believes her attempts are being thwarted because barely anyone knows how to donate.
"I'm frightened. People are dying all the time because they can't find a match," she said.
Her fate lies in finding a match through the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, a database of samples which is shared with registries around the world.
Anyone can give a sample, even those who cannot give blood, but the organisation is so obscure that even Mrs Melbourne did not know about it until 10 weeks ago.
"If you fall into the age group of 18-45 and you are the kind of person that would give somebody a life but you are not aware of it, then that is really sad," she said.
Mrs Melbourne first underwent chemotherapy and radiation four years ago when she was diagnosed with stage one of the disease.
She beat it on that occasion but it continued to return, forcing her to quit her job as an aged care worker while she underwent round after round of chemotherapy.
Her most recent treatment ended a fortnight ago, but even if it is successful it is only a matter of time before the disease appears again.
"Even if the chemo is effective, the cancer will come back, that's a fact," she said.
"It's got to the stage now where I can't be cured without a transplant."
Her adult son Adam, her brother in England and most of her friends have donated, but finding a match within her own circle is extremely unlikely.
"The odds would be too great for somebody I knew to be a match," she said.
"It would be a miracle, but those people I know could be a match for a little boy in America one day."
Close friend Freyja Gunn, who donated her bone marrow to the registry, said the frustration was taking its toll on Mrs Melbourne.
"She's such a tough person but every now and then she'll break down and you think, maybe she should do that more often, because she's so positive," Ms Gunn said.
"She'll say 'When I find a donor' and it's not if."
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