If you could save a life, would you?

2 07 2012

Erica (pic, at right) is a mom of two boys, ages five and two.  She is fighting acute mylogenous leukemia (AML) and is in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant.  No matching donor has been found, and Erica is running out of time.  Her husband Harley was a law school classmate of mine.  He is asking everyone to please consider joining their country’s donor registry – the person who can save Erica’s life could be anywhere.  The majority of matches are between unrelated people.

Fewer than 1 in 500 people who register are ever contacted to donate, but if you are a match, you can save a life – maybe even Erica’s. The process starts by filling out a simple online questionnaire.  If you are eligible to donate, your registry will send you a kit to take a cheek swab and return it to them.  In most cases, registering is free.  Joining the registry does not obligate you to donate.

If you are a match, there are two ways to donate.  The most frequently used method is via peripheral blood stem cells.  It is similar to donating blood, but you take a drug for a few days before the donation to pump up your blood-forming cells.  The other method involves day surgery under a general anesthetic.  A needle is inserted into the pelvic bone through a small incision and the marrow withdrawn.  In both cases, people return to work within 1-7 days and feel completely recovered within 2-3 weeks.  It takes the body only 4-6 weeks to replace the donated cells or marrow.  The donor’s medical costs are usually completely covered.

Here are links to the donor registries for the top four English-speaking countries that make up the traffic for this blog.  If I haven’t included your country, a simple Google search will probably bring up your registry’s website.

In Canada: www.onematch.ca (I registered here today.)

In the USA:  www.bethematch.org

In Britain: http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow/

In Australia:  http://www.abmdr.org.au/

The Internet can do amazing things.  A guy from Toronto recently took up an online collection for an elderly bus monitor in New York after viewing a Youtube video of her being bullied on the bus.  He wanted to send her on a nice vacation.  Within weeks, he raised over $600,000 for her.  Imagine what could happen if everyone who read this post decided to register as a potential donor?

Thanks for reading this.  I’m hoping for some magic.

Please feel free to share and distribute this post – Erica’s match is out there, somewhere.

If you would like to know more about Erica’s story, here is an e-mail from her husband, Harley, explaining what they’ve gone through over the past month:


Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail.  This is our urgent
plea to you and to everyone that you know to help my amazing wife/our
boys' super-mama Erica find a suitable bone marrow transplant donor to
help to save her life and to get her back home to our two young boys
(ages 2 and 5).  I have attached a pic of Team Harris from a few months
ago and a recent pic of Erica in hospital.

On the afternoon of June 6th, we were told that Erica had acute mylogenous leukemia (AML).   
She was immediately admitted to the Leukemia/BMT ward at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) 
and a first round of chemo was started on June 8th.  The first round lasted 7 days.

The intent of chemotherapy for AML (an acute form of blood cancer) 
is to wipe out all of the bad (leukemic) as well as the
good cells in Erica's bone marrow (where blood cells are formed and
grow).   What the doctors are looking for after the chemo treatment is
for the bone marrow to be entirely clear of all cells, enabling Erica's
healthy cells to start growing again without the bad leukemic cells
(essentially pressing a bone marrow "reset" button).  When the bone
marrow is clear after chemo and the recovery period, the doctors call it

On June 21st, Erica had a bone marrow biopsy to determine if the 1st round
of chemo had done its job.   Instead of a clear marrow, what showed was about 10% "immature" 
cells.  The concern of her doctors was that these were bad leukemic cells that were not
destroyed by the chemo.

On June 28th, Erica had another bone marrow biopsy.  We
received the results the next day, on Friday, June 29th.  These results
showed clearly that the 1st round of chemo did not do its job.  As of
June 28th, the bad leukemic cells were estimated at 60% to 70% of her
marrow.  When this all started at the beginning of June, before any
chemo treatments, her bad cells were estimated at 26%.

What does this mean? For starters, we were told that
this result means that she is in the "high risk" designation for AML.
Very high doses of different, harsher chemo drugs and a bone marrow
transplant (BMT) are the urgent course of treatment.

They started what they call "salvage" chemo on Saturday
morning (June 30th).  This aggressive round of chemo lasts 6 days, with
a 4 to 6 week estimated "recovery" period afterwards.   We were also
told that if this chemo does not do its job and put Erica's leukemia
into remission that there are no other courses of treatment for Erica at

Assuming this harsher chemo does its job, Erica needs a
BMT right away.  The BMT has to occur shortly after this round of chemo,
once remission is indicated (ie that the marrow is clear of the bad
leukemic cells).

We need your urgent assistance with the bone marrow.

We need to find Erica as close a match as possible for her BMT from an
un-related donor.   There are international bone marrow donor registries
that are being searched right now.  As of Friday, the doctor indicated
that a match had not been found yet.   Further, if a match is found
somewhere in the world, that donor has to confirm their consent.

Our window of time is very short to find a suitable, willing donor if
the chemo does its job and the marrow is clear.

If you, or someone you know, agree to donate, and get on the donor
registry very quickly, you may be able to assist Erica.

Please encourage friends, colleagues and family to sign up to the
registry to donate their stem cells/bone marrow if they are able.

Please circulate and post this information and our plea everywhere you

For those of you in Canada, below is a link to the "One Match" bone
marrow registry run by Canadian Blood Services (CBS).   Information
about the registry and forms to complete are on this site:
age/Join_OneMatch?OpenDocument   I have also attached the One Match
information package from the website as a pdf to this e-mail for ease of
reference if you prefer a hard copy to read.

There is a process to follow.  Once you sign up online, CBS contacts you
in 8-10 business days and sends you a swab kit - you can contact your
local CBS office to see if you can shorten this timeline and/or have the
swab done at their location.  Time is of the essence.

Also, if you, and/or anyone you know, are able to donate blood and/or
platelets - this is also very important.    Erica had a number of
transfusions of platelets and hemoglobins in her first round of chemo
and we anticipate there will be many more transfusions during this next
chemo treatment.   You never realize how important donating blood and
platelets really is until you are receiving them.

Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, strength and support.

Thank you for spreading the word and circulating our plea.

Thank you for helping to bring Erica home.

Faith, Hope and Love
Team Harris

"Go Fighters Go"
(This is what our boys say to their mama to help her get her healthy
"fighter" cells working again in her body).

Haven’t Had Enough Spin Mix (52 minutes)

2 07 2012

Summer 2012 is here!  It’s Canada Day weekend and the weather has come out smokin’ hot.  I was out for a two hour ride yesterday along the gorgeous Saltmarsh Trail in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia (pic below).

There’s lots of news.  The BIG news is that Spinning Music will soon be moving to a new home, which will allow for many site improvements, including forums to replace the Bike Cafe page and the now-clunky Reader Playlists page.  It has so many posts that it is very slow to load and even crashes in some browsers.  I am still working on acquiring the URL – will post as soon as I have it.

In much smaller news, I recently acquired another weekly class (mostly men – interesting!) and I’ve been really enjoying the extra time on the bike.

This is one of two playlists I’ve been enjoying of late.  My regular riders tell me this is one tough ride.

Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen (3:13):  Critics are calling this THE song of summer 2012.  This young Canadian artist (and veteran of Canadian Idol) has taken the pop world by storm as her tune streaked to number one in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, and peaked in the top five in Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Poland.  There’s even a Youtube video of Barack Obama singing it (with the lyrics cleverly spliced from his many public addresses).  We’re going to use the song to warm up, so take that tension knob and push it up and away from you until you can feel the road under your feet.

Turn Me On (feat. Nicki Minaj) – David Guetta (3:19):  An out-of-the-saddle climb with a couple of tension increases.

Jet Lag (feat. Natasha Bedingfield) – Simple Plan (3:24):  These Canadian rockers out of Montreal have almost the same knack for catchy pop tunes as Jepsen does.  Let’s do some sprints: 30/30/30 seconds at 0:40 – 1:09, 1:35 – 2:02 and 2:32 – 3:10.

Adrenaline (Original Mix) – Liquid Soul (7:51):  I’ve used this song before, but in this incarnation my riders tell me it’s the toughest part of the class.  Good thing it comes early!  This is a combo drill alternating between a minute of standing climb and a minute of surging (seated, 80% of your max, a not-quite-sprint).  You”ll need medium tension here – about 5/10 or 50% of your max.  Sounds easy?  Look at the length of the song – there are four sets.  That’s eight minutes of work before the next break.

Never Close Our Eyes – Adam Lambert (4:08):  Adam Lambert is back with that great big voice.  Take a swig from your water bottle and give your shoulders a few rolls while the song gets going.  Crank the tension up medium-high to about 7/10.  When the bass kicks in (around 0:30) we’re going to start with 8 count jumps for the verses.  When the bass stops as we head into the chorus, come up out of the saddle into a standing climb and when Lambert hits the chorus, we’ll sprint! 30/30/30 at 1:15 – 1:45, 2:30 – 3:00,  3:30 – 4:04 .  After the first chorus,  it’s back to 8 count jumps.  After the second chorus, there’s a bridge from 3:00 – 3:30.  Use that for a quick breather.  The third sprint starts at 3:30 and takes us through the end of the song.

Part of Me – Katy Perry (3:35):  More sprints – 30/30/30 seconds at 0:30 – 0:60, 1:30 – 2:00 and 2:30 – 3:00.  The breakup lyrics suggest this song might be about Russell Brand but Perry denies this – she says the song was written in early 2010 but wasn’t included on the Teenage Dream CD because it didn’t fit with the other songs.

Marry the Night – Lady Gaga (4:25):  Still more sprints – hmm, could this be why my riders found this class so tough?  Three of them again, 30/30/30 seconds.  They’re at 0:42 – 1:11, 1:50 – 2:20, and 3:00 – 3:28.

Haven’t Had Enough – Marianas Trench (3:29):  Shift gears here and we’ll do some jumps on a hill.  Tension up to 9/10 and give me 8 counts for the verses and 4 counts for the choruses.  These guys hail from Vancouver, British Columbia and they’re opening for Jepsen in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on July 13.

Wild Ones (feat. Sia) – Flo Rida (3:53:)  It’s almost a relief to dial the tension back and move into a standing climb.  Flo Rida has another song that’s been getting a lot of airplay lately – the racy Whistle (which isn’t about whistling) but I haven’t quite decided how to use it.  (Amy, if you read this, remind me how you used it in your classes.  I went back to your Facebook page after you posted that playlist but I couldn’t find it.)

Tonight Tonight – Hot Chelle Rae (3:20):  It’s back to jumps on a hill, but at a lower tension – 7/10 for this one.  Mix it up between 8, 4, and 2 counts.

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson (3:42):  One teensy weensy sprinting tune to finish us up with that pleasantly thrashed feeling.  30/30/50 seconds here, at 0:43 – 1:15, 1:40 – 2:14 and 2:39 – 3:29.  I always coach riders to take sprints as they choose: standing, seated, or as surges, but I also encourage them to push just a little harder.  Sometimes I ask for a show of hands, who has chosen to do the next sprint interval standing?  (the better to get the competitive juices flowing).  I remind them that they can start standing and sit down if they don’t have the juice to finish, but you know what?  If I can get them out of the saddle, that’s where they stay.

One Life – Hedley (3:33): Ahhh…. cool down with some inspiring lyrics.  Like Carly Jepsen, the lead singer for this British Columbia band is an ex-Canadian Idol contestant.

Young Homie – Chris Rene (3:29):  Rene finished third on the first season of The X Factor (USA) and I was rooting for him all the way, as he left garbage collection and drug addiction to find his musical roots as a singer-songwriter.  Some extra cool down and goodbye music.

After a long drought, you’re going to start hearing from me more often.  I have another playlist in the hopper (will post in the coming week) and have resolved to start giving this blog a little more love.  It’s tough when you have a toddler at home – parenting a wee one is kind of like having a hobby that takes up 80% of your waking hours outside of work, and as I write this, she is heading up to bed crying “I want the mama come too!”  I keep reminding myself of Oprah’s wise words: “You can have it all.  Just not all at once.”

Happy (and safe) riding, everyone.

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