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Thank the Lord, I am here to tell you...
An interview with cancer survivor Boyd Dunleavey

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By Rick Vandekieft

London resident Boyd Dunleavey was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in 2011 and was given a 10 per cent chance of survival. Chemotherapy beat it back but the cancer returned a few months later, leading to more treatment and the stem cell transplant in May of 2012.

Boyd told us, "Three years ago this month, the lives of my family and I were forever changed. We were going out of town and I had flulike symptoms. My wife suggested a quick trip to the doctor. They ordered blood work, thinking it was a virus. It was the worst possible news we could imagine, as I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. If we had gone out of town, I would have died. My white blood cells were 80% cancerous within one week. Treatment started immediately and Churches all over the city rallied to pray for me and my young family."

There were three rounds of treatment over 3 months but the news got worse. The doctors explained that he had a very rare form of blood cancer and that without a stem cell transplant he had a 90% chance of a relapse within a year. No one in his immediate family was a match so the only option was to be put on the OneMatch Stem cell registry.

OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network is managed by Canadian Blood Services with the mission to secure, in an expeditious way, donors for Canadian bone marrow transplant patients and for patients abroad.

In 2006, the group received accreditation through the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA). Achieving WMDA accreditation is a clear indication that Canadian Blood Services is committed to making stem cell donation a safe procedure for both donors and recipients.

The days became weeks and the weeks turned into months as he and his family waited for news from Canadian Blood Services. In December 2011 Boyd received the call he had been waiting for; a donor had been found! They were referred to a hospital quite a distance away and then there were delays. Before the transplant could take place his cancer relapsed which meant ...more chemotherapy.

This round of chemo was especially hard on his body and he developed stomach ulcers. He was vomiting and experiencing uncontrollable hiccupping for 8 days. He couldn't eat.

Days into this misery, suffering the pain and exhausting Boyd had a vision, "I had a vision of Jesus being flogged before his crucifixion and Isaiah 53 went through my mind, 'by His stripes we are healed!'"

Two nights later, at 3 in the morning Boyd sat up suddenly and vomited violently across the room ...twice! When done he felt the bitterness and the anger leaving his body. The pain subsided the vomiting stopped and no more hiccupping... the doctors could not explain it!

He finished chemotherapy, and had a stem cell transplant at Juravinski hospital in Hamilton in May 2012. The process included being in complete isolation for a month that felt so much longer. He was away from home and while occasionally lonely he was not alone as Boyd felt His presence. His family and friends praying for him, and, when permitted, several came to visit! The transplant, the prayers and the Lord - saved Boyd's life.

Within six months Boyd was off of most of the anti-rejection medication but he says with a smile, "Yes, the side effects from the chemotherapy and transplant have been difficult, but I am still here!"

"The Lord has been a tremendous source of strength and support to me through all of this. Along with my friends and family I know there were countless believers unknown to me that prayed for us."

"I thank you all. The process of healing is taking time, but the Lord has shown me He can heal my body, my soul and my spirit."

Boyd does have one more request, "I encourage you to donate blood as the average cancer patient requires 8 units of blood per week to stay alive during treatment! And, to men between the ages of 17-35, (1) please consider signing up with www.onematch.ca, the Canadian bone marrow registry. The process is simple, the chances of you getting the call are slim, but getting the call would mean you could save a life!"

Editor's addendums:

(1) Why does Boyd say ... And, to men between the ages of 17-35, please consider signing up with www.onematch.ca, the Canadian bone marrow registry.

The facts: If you are a male between the ages of 17-35, you're considered an optimal stem cell donor because stem cells from young male donors offer better long-term survival rates for patients. However, all donors represent more hope for patients around the world and so females between the ages of 17-35 are also welcomed to join the registry.
What should a Christian's view be on stem cell research?

According to Got Questions Ministries...
With the current debate raging about stem cell research, Christians would do well to educate themselves on the topic and its ramifications. To cure disease and alleviate suffering are noble pursuits, and the Bible clearly supports the battle against physical ills. A major feature of Jesus' ministry was His healing (Matthew 4:23-24), and one of the New Testament writers, Luke, was a physician (Colossians 4:14). Stem cell research has shown great promise in the fairly new field of regenerative medicine, and many groups are actively pursuing new ways of harvesting stem cells and testing the cells' plasticity-the ability to form a wide variety of mature cell types.

For more, click on www.gotquestions.org/Christian-stem-cell-research.html

Mission Statement of Got Questions Ministries: Got Questions Ministries seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually related questions through an internet presence.