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June 6, 2014

Health Beat: Stem cell drive honors leukemia victim

A stem cell donor drive is being held tomorrow in memory of Cathy Sheehan, a former spin instructor at Latitude Sports Club in Salisbury who died after a yearlong fight with leukemia.

The drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 3 Pleasant St., Epping, N.H.

Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April 2013, Sheehan was waiting for a second stem cell transplant after the first one failed. Because the same donor cannot be used twice on the same patient, she needed another match, but there wasn’t one in the national Be the Match registry. She passed away in April at age 44, leaving behind her husband and three children.

Transplanting stem cells, which are immature blood cells, can save the life of a patient whose normal blood cells have been crowded out by cancerous cells. Extracting the cells is an outpatient process in which blood is removed through a needle in one arm and passed through a machine that separates out the blood-forming cells. The blood is then returned through the other arm.

Joining the registry is a simple, painless process that involves a quick swab of cheek cells. Anyone in good health between the ages of 18 and 44 is eligible. While joining is free for those under 45, older adults (up to age 60) are required to pay a $100 fee and can only register online. Anyone who cannot attend tomorrow can also register online at www.bethematch.org.

‘Fresh Start’ exercise program to start

Looking to start a fitness regimen but not sure where to begin? A new four-week program being offered by the Newburyport Parks Department is designed for beginners or people coming back from injury.

Starting June 16, the class will meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 to 10:45 a.m. outside on the Bartlet Mall.

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