UPDATE! Come out to the Friday Night Concert in Lynn Valley Village on July 6 and register with Canadian Blood Services on the spot to see if you are a potential donor for Erica or another person in need. Read on to hear Erica’s story.

Now that the sun is shining, most parents and kids are thinking about beach days, play dates, and picnics in the park. Unfortunately, one Lynn Valley family’s summer dreams have been cut short in a manner as tragic as it was unexpected.

Erica Harris is a wife, a mom to two young sons, and a chiropractor who has spent time working at Canopy Health in Lynn Valley Village. She has owned her own clinic and built her career helping professional and amateur athletes reach their peak. But on June 6 she received word that her own health is facing a severe challenge. On that day she learned she has acute myelogenous leukemia, and was immediately admitted to hospital.

Two days later she started a week-long course of chemotherapy intended to wipe out the cancerous cells in her bone marrow. It was not successful. In fact, the percentage of leukemic cells in her blood was even higher than before.

Doctors now know that Erica is in a high-risk category that requires an even harsher round of chemo to wipe out all the cells in her marrow, good and bad alike (she is just finishing up these treatments in the next day or two). This sets the stage for a bone marrow transplant to follow, which will provide her with ‘seed’ cells to regrow the marrow she needs to produce healthy blood cells.

But there’s a problem. So far a suitable match has not been found for Erica, and her need is urgent and time-limited. That’s why her friends, family and colleagues are doing all they can to spread the word to encourage people to do the simple steps necessary to see if they are a potential match.

This involves a simple cheek swab (you can do it all by mail, or to save precious time, in person at a Canadian Blood Services centre). If a match is found, the vast majority of donations are made via a minimally invasive procedure involving blood collection; occasionally a more involved collection of marrow from the iliac crest is done under local or general anesthetic.

Of course, there are more people than Erica in need of these life-saving treatments, and her family hopes that others will benefit from the kindness of donors who may not be a direct match for Erica.

“Also, if you, and/or anyone you know, are able to donate blood or platelets – this is also very important,” says Erica’s husband Harley Harris. “Erica had a number of transfusions … 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.”

Harley’s great wish is to have Erica home again and tucking in their two boys at night. The two- and five-year-old lads are her biggest cheering squad, urging her ‘good’ cells on with chants of “Go, fighters, go!!”

But Erica’s ‘good’ cells need a helping hand, and that’s what neighbours are for. So please learn more about the donation process and how you can get involved. And please spread the word on your own Facebook pages and amongst your email lists.

We’ll be sure to update you with any other opportunities to give this Lynn Valley family a hand.  In the meantime, please continue to keep Erica, Harley and their boys in your thoughts.

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, Editor