Candace Weimer
  • Articles
  • June19th

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    Candace’s story was published in the University of Regina’s Degrees magazine, June 2012.

    To view, click here and go to page 32  —->

  • April8th

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    April 4, 2012

    media fuels desperate search for life-saving stem cell donors

    Through creative uses of social media, the number of
    Canadians who have signed up with the stem-cell and bone-marrow registry

    Public Health Reporter
    The Globe and Mail

    David Geneen suffers
    from a rare blood disorder that, without treatment, will result in deadly

    So he decided to
    throw a party. “It was a festive and warm affair, a great success,” said Mr.
    Geneen, a retired luxury-car dealer.

    But it was no
    ordinary party.

    More than 700
    friends and strangers recently showed up at Holy Blossom Temple in downtown
    Toronto on a Sunday afternoon, and almost everyone aged 17 to 50 – a total of
    428 people – underwent a CSI-like swab.

    That’s because Mr.
    Geneen, 64, has exhausted drug treatments and now needs a transplant of stem
    cells – which are be harvested from blood or bone marrow, and have to be a
    perfect match. The partygoers who underwent a cheek swab were, in fact, joining
    OneMatch, a registry for unrelated stem-cell and bone-marrow


    There are now almost
    320,000 Canadians who have signed up with OneMatch. The number has exploded in
    recent years, thanks to community-based activities and the ability to order swab
    kits online, both driven by creative use of social media. While the stem-cell
    and marrow registry has been around since 1988, it was rebranded OneMatch in
    2007 and only started actively soliciting donations in the last couple of years,
    after pressure from families.

    The Facebook page
    David Geneen Bone Marrow Drive, caught the eye of Daniel Zuckerman so the
    17-year-old offered up his band to provide entertainment at the party. Then, he
    and the other members of Truthful Lies got swabbed, a quick and painless swipe
    with a Q-Tip along the inside of the cheek.

    “I never heard about
    this kind of donation before but it’s a cool concept,” he said. His data will
    now go into a OneMatch registry and be part of a network of databanks that
    include 18 million people in 44 countries

    Massive numbers like
    that are required because stem-cell matches are determined according to DNA
    markers on white blood cells called human leucocyte antigens. There are 10 HLAs
    and, ideally, all 10 should match for the donor and recipient to minimize the
    risk of a transplant being rejected.

    “It’s like trying to
    find someone with the same fingerprint as you,” said John Bromley, national
    public-affairs manager at OneMatch. “It’s the proverbial search for a needle in
    a haystack.”

    At any given time,
    about 900 Canadians are awaiting a stem-cell transplant. Only about one-third of
    them will manage to find a match.


    One child who defied
    the odds is 22-month-old Reese Hawkins, who suffers from a form of leukemia. The
    family of the Pictou, N.S., girl learned just last month that OneMatch had
    located a donor. In fact, they found three potential donors – two live donors
    abroad, and one donor to a cord blood bank.

    Reese is now at the
    Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where chemotherapy began yesterday, and a
    stem-cell transplant is scheduled for April 12. She then must remain as an
    outpatient for 100 days – likely in Halifax – to deal with complications and
    ensure the stem cells are engrafted.

    Kora Hanrahan,
    Reese’s mother, said they are overwhelmed but overjoyed at the prospect of a
    life-saving transplant.

    “All I know is that
    a mom made a decision to donate her baby girl’s umbilical cord and that’s going
    to save my girl’s life,” Ms. Hanrahan said.

    “Reese’s donor will
    never ever get to know what they’ve done for us but we owe that person


    If the odds weren’t
    astronomical enough already, matches rarely occur outside racial groups because
    each ethnicity has inherited haplotypes, a combination of DNA and location on
    chromosomes. In the United States, the odds are 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 100,000 for
    a match from a stranger and significantly higher for ethnic minorities.
    Practically, in a multicultural country like Canada, that means the need to
    build a stem-cell bank collected from members of numerous ethnic

    “Our main thrust is
    diversity,” Mr. Bromley said, noting that currently, 76 per cent of the
    registrants in the database are Caucasian.

    But other
    initiatives like South Asians for Life and the Other Half Chinese Stem Cell
    Initiative have sprung up and recruited potential donors on a large

    The latter conducted
    drives last Saturday in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal and netted
    4,616 new potential donors. Susan Go, co-founder of the Other Half, noted that
    of the 966 Canadians waiting for stem-cell transplants, 32 are of Chinese

    When someone needs
    stem cells, their first best hope for a match is immediate family members.
    Still, fewer than 25 per cent find a match.

    success story

    Candace Weimer, 38,
    of Green Lake, B.C., was a lucky one – if you dare describe her ordeal as lucky.
    In the spring of 2005, the super-fit personal trainer was feeling increasingly
    rundown and frustrated by the changes in her body. “I looked like a chicken
    hawk: I had skinny legs and a big abdomen,” she said with a

    Tests revealed that
    she had myelofibrosis, a disorder where the body slowly destroys its bone

    Her brother was a
    match so he became the donor. The process was easy: He underwent apheresis, a
    process that is similar to giving blood, except that blood is drawn, the
    stem-cell-rich platelets are extracted and the red and white cells are returned
    to the body. “It wasn’t a big deal. He sat in a chair for two hours, they drew
    some blood and he saved my life,” Ms. Weimer said.

    Receiving a
    stem-cell transplant, however, is a much more taxing ordeal. First, it is
    necessary to shut down the body’s immune system so the body will not reject the
    foreign substance, stem cells. That is done with chemotherapy, which Ms. Weimer
    described thus: “They chemo you to the brink of death.” Then the patient’s
    immune system is suppressed with drugs for 100 days until the stem cells take
    and the immune system is rebuilt, cancer-free.

    Like most stem-cell
    recipients, she experienced a host of complications. Infection twice brought her
    to the brink of death. Bacteria lurking in her knee caused a blood infection
    that was almost fatal; another infection brought her to the brink of death a
    second time. The medications she required, such as steroids, also destroyed the
    bone in her hip (necessitating a hip replacement), and has caused permanent
    damage to an eye.

    “Was it all worth
    it? Oh God, yes,” Ms. Weimer said. “That was the best-case scenario. Without the
    transplant, I was dead.”

    To donate stem
    cells, visit or phone 1-888-2-DONATE


    April 4, 2012

    umbilical cord blood bank in Canada’s future

    The Globe and Mail

    Ottawa and the
    provinces have just decided to invest $48-million over eight years to create a
    cord blood banking system, one that should be up and running within a year.

    is one of the few G20 countries without a public umbilical cord blood bank.
    That’s about to change.

    Ottawa and the
    provinces have decided to invest $48-million over eight years to create a cord
    blood banking system, one that should be up and running within a

    The umbilical cord,
    which connects a baby in the womb to its mother, contains blood that is a rich
    source of stem cells. The cord is usually discarded along with the

    In the coming years,
    however, there will be an effort to systematically collect umbilical-cord blood,
    particularly from babies who are aboriginal or of mixed race – groups for whom
    it is nearly impossible to find stem-cell matches.

    “Canada has unique
    mixed-race ethnicities and aboriginal populations. That’s why we’re going to be
    targeting those folks in particular,” said Sue Smith, executive director of
    OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network at Canadian Blood Services, which will be
    managing the cord blood bank.

    The program will
    begin in Ottawa in the spring of 2013, then expand to Vancouver, Edmonton and
    Toronto in 2014. (Quebec already has its own cord bank.) Collection kits will
    also be distributed to hospitals and birthing centres where there are high
    number of aboriginal births.

    Cord blood can be
    collected in-utero, just after the baby is born but before the placenta is
    delivered, or ex-utero, extracted before the umbilical cord and placenta are
    discarded. The blood will then be sent to a laboratory in Ottawa or Edmonton
    where stem cells will be extracted, tested and cryopreserved in a special

    Canada’s cord blood
    bank will be linked in a database to 44 others around the world, where there are
    already more than half a million samples.

    Currently, there are
    a handful of private cord blood banks that allow parents to store their child’s
    cord blood for personal use, should the need ever arise. This service costs
    upwards of $1,000.

    There are no fees
    for the public cord bank and the stem cells will be freely available to any
    patients who are a match, domestically or


  • March31st

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    Link here (Page 5) of the Cariboo Advisor –>

  • December13th

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    A Tale in the Telling (page 23, Leap magazine) highlights Candace’s cancer journey as part of way cancer patients deal with their experiences, great and small.

    Leap Magazine, Winter 2011 link – >

    Alberta Cancer Foundation link ->

    The Alberta Cancer Foundation is more than a charity—

    it’s a movement for cancer-free lives,today, tomorrow and forever.
    It’s a movement of those who know a cancer-freefuture is possible and who won’t settle for “some day.”
    It’s a movementof Albertans who stand with those who have no choice but to stand up to cancer.
    It’s a movement of those who know somethingcan be done and are willing to do it.
    For those facing cancer today, in honour of those lost to cancer, and for generations to come,we promise progress.
  • November7th

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  • October26th

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    Survivor offers hope, humour

    Betty Ann Adam, The StarPhoenix

    Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Saskatchewan cancer survivor Candace Weimer could have used some relevant, lighthearted reading when she was going through her diagnoses, treatment and recovery.

    Now, six years later and still cancer-free, Weimer has published excerpts of the journal she kept and is working to distribute her book, When the world dropped in on me, to libraries in every hospital and cancer centre in Canada.

    “There isn’t much literature out there with the real, non-theorized, humorous view of cancer,” Weimer said during a visit this week to Saskatoon from her current home in British Columbia.

     ”I’m not Lance Armstrong. I’m a real person who’s been through it and that’s what I was looking for (when I was going through it),” Weimer said.

    She hopes the book will provide hope and help caregivers understand their loved one’s experience.

    Weimer was 38 and the single mother of a 13-yearold son living in Lumsden in May 2005 when she was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a bone marrow condition that precedes leukemia. She was given two years to live unless she had a stem cell transplant within months.

    Her younger brother, Dennis, proved to be a match and in November of that year, she received the life-saving, but sickening, therapy in Seattle.

    Throughout the journey, Weimer kept a journal, recording useful information along with her feelings, observations and quirky stick figure drawings.

    The journey included complications three years later that required more surgery, including replacement of a tear duct and a hip as her body fought the transplant.

    “Sometimes it was the only way I could make sense of it all,” she said.

    As a communications specialist with SaskEnergy prior to her diagnosis, it was natural for her to reach out with words and pictures.

    At the urging of a friend, Weimer published excerpts in 119 easy-read pages that resonate with patients and caregivers.

    There are no technical explanations or abstract theories about how to approach the gruelling therapies, just wry and honest observations from life on the receiving end of the treatment.

    The book is available at local bookstores or at www.

    Now 44, Weimer is moving on to the next stage in her life, with a new partner in B.C. and a new career as a motivational speaker.

    © The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2011
  • August23rd

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    Photo:  (l-r) Lisa Lacamell and Sharon Paulse from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, Candace Weimer, Richard Pass, Ronald McDonald House, B.C. along with Jaymi, (patient and temporary resident of the Ronald McDonald House) receive copies of When the World Dropped in On Me.

    News Release – When the World Dropped in On Me – August 22, 2011 – FINAL

    August 22, 2011 – The pink book is getting around!

    In a personal and colourful event, local author, Candace Weimer dressed in pink, donated books entitled, When the World Dropped in On Me to the Ronald McDonald House BC and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada today.  The books will be made available for cancer patients and their caregivers when they find themselves in unbelievable times.

  • August18th

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    Candace Weimer

    By Mike Youds
    Daily News Staff Reporter

    She’s one of those people who, when presented with a daunting challenge, reaches for the bookshelf.

    Candace Weimer had many questions in 2005, no doubt. At age 38, had just been diagnosed with myelfibrosis, a bone and blood cancer that doctors said gave her two years to live.

    “I call it a prelude to bone cancer, a prelude to leukemia,” she said, now brimming with facts. At the time, she found precious little literature of value. Her “cancer coach,” a professionally trained counsellor, had endured many complications with cancer but didn’t want to talk about them.

    “I need to go find a book that can give me help,” thought the communications specialist and fitness instructor, something inspirational yet not without humour. She found a lot on the theories behind cancer and Lance Armstrong’s biographical It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.

    “Well, he’s not real to me,” said Weimer, who was a single parent residing in Saskatchewan at the time.

    As the story goes, she set about writing her own, the idea being to “pay forward the knowledge that I had acquired.” She kept a journal as she underwent a five-month bone-marrow transplant, chronicling the wait for a stem-cell match, chemotherapy conditioning, the procedure itself, healing, complications and eventual recovery.

    With the resolute determination of a true survivor, she’s now published When The World Dropped In On Me (DriverWorks Ink, 2011, $15.95, 117 pgs.). Her subtitle sums it up: A personal and unusual guide to help cancer patients and their caregivers survive.”

    Her brother was able to donate the stem cells, but the transplant had to be done in Seattle — it was the only available facility —  with support from Saskatchewan’s Telemiracle Fund. Only six in 10 survive such transplants. She opted to treat the journey as though it was a final vacation with her parents. She wrote a possibly final farewell note to her son, who stayed behind. And she kept writing throughout the ordeal.

    Within the account, she coaches survivors to maintain their dignity and sense of humour, to allow themselves to release emotional stress, and yet to stay focused on healing and not on the emotional baggage of others.

     “I think you have to take some breath in at times. You have to take hold of the situation when everybody around you is reacting, if you can balance it. People go a little crazy when you’re diagnosed with cancer.

    Everybody reacts differently and there’s no right or wrong,” she added. “Stay focused on the ball. Stay focused on what you need to be to help yourself. Research and know your disease inside out … Then, I would also say, make sure you have yourself prepared to go either way.”

    She also stresses the importance of blood and signing onto the international bone marrow registry.

    Since her recovery, she met a man from Kamloops and moved out to B.C. She doesn’t look back on her cancer as a misfortune.

    “I call it in my book a blessing. In the end, I appreciate my life so much more. You don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”

    Her book is available at Chapters or through her webiste,

    “My goal is to make sure there’s a copy in every hospital and treatment centre.”

    [Get Copyright Permissions] Click here for reuse options!
    Copyright 2011 Glacier Media Inc.

  • July14th

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    CTV News Clip, Regina – July, 2011

  • July12th

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    By Irene Seiberling, Leader-Post July 8, 2011

    REGINA — Surprisingly, Candace Weimer is able to refer to her cancer “adventure” as “a blessing.” It’s this upbeat, positive attitude the Saskatchewan cancer survivor shares in her new book, When the World Dropped in On Me (DriverWorks Ink, $15.95).

    “When I was diagnosed with leukemia, or myelfibrosis, I immediately went to the bookshelves and wanted to learn more: a) about my disease, and b) who else has made it through. I wanted hope. I wanted inspiration,” she explained.

    When she was diagnosed with bone and blood cancer in 2005 at the age of 38, and given only two years to live, Weimer realized that even after receiving a bone-marrow transplant, she only had a four in 10 chance of survival.

    “I was feeling a little under the gun,” Weimer admitted. “And I was looking for some hope.”

    When she couldn’t find a book in the Saskatoon Cancer Centre library that would actually inspire her, she decided that when she was finished with her battle with cancer, she would write a book “to help cancer patients and their caregivers through the unbelievable times — to work through another day, good or bad.”

    This week — six years after surviving a transplant and the many complications that ensued (two knee surgeries, a near leg amputation, a couple of near-death experiences, full right hip replacement, two eye surgeries — and a bad hairdo) — Weimer’s book was launched in Regina.

    In When the World Dropped in On Me, Weimer shares her unusual cancer treatment experiences, so others can find hope in her survival. Through the 120-page softcover book, Weimer said she hopes to inspire others to take a good, long look at their personal attitudes, and how they choose to react to life’s challenges and opportunities.

    “Once you survive cancer, you become more spontaneous,” she pointed out, adding that after she “hit the re-start button in life” she now lives a life with no regrets.

    Recognizing that cancer patients and their caregivers tend to be fatigued during their “journey” with the disease and, as a result, tend not to have a lot of time or patience to read, Weimer made a point of keeping her book short, and easy to read. She chose a blog-style format.

    Weimer didn’t publish her book to make money. It’s about raising hope, not dollars, she explained.

    “Quite simply, I want to ensure that all cancer patients and their caregivers have a simple, real and humorous read when they find themselves in unbelievable cancer times. My goal is to have one of my books in every cancer centre and hospital library in Canada by 2013,” she said.

    “While reading this book, you’ll feel like you are floating around in my head during my cancer treatment.”

    Throughout her cancer journey, Weimer kept written journals and illustrations of her experiences — the ups and downs. Many are featured in When the World Dropped in On Me.

    “It’s about a real person who has gone through it,” Weimer emphasized. “It makes us laugh and cry.”

    “It’s humorous. I have a wacky sense of humour,” she added.

    Because cancer patients can’t survive without their caregivers, Weimer’s book is dedicated to all cancer caregivers, to recognize the time and energy they spend focused on the survival of someone battling the disease. The book is designed so it can be read to patients by caregivers.

    “Sometimes a patient and caregiver have awkward moments,” she said, suggesting her book provides a an opportunity to share a story and quiet moments. “And they can laugh at me instead of them.”

    In her book, Weimer offers helpful hints, for both cancer patients and their caregivers, to help them work though the ups and downs of cancer treatment. For example, she emphasizes the importance of staying well nourished and hydrated, and taking drugs as prescribed. Surrounding yourself with positive people is good medicine. But it’s important to keep visits with well-intentioned friends and family short because visits tend to drain a cancer patient’s energy, she cautioned. “Caregivers are the gatekeepers of the cancer patient.”

    Don’t lie and tell a cancer patient they look good, Weimer stressed. “When you’re a cancer patient, you’re probably not looking your best. Be honest with your communication,” she recommended, flashing a smile as she described some of her less-than-pretty, cancer-related looks.

    In the foreword to her book, Weimer acknowledges “I am a cancer survivor and I am living on borrowed time.”

    As she reflected on how her cancer experience has made her more appreciative of the life she enjoys today, she said, “I am so thankful that I have been gifted with life, and hopefully for another 15 to 20 years.”

    Weimer’s book emphasizes the importance of donating blood and registering with the international bone marrow registry, illustrating how these gifts of life (blood and stem cells) can save or extend a cancer patient’s life.

    When the World Dropped in On Me is 100 per cent Saskatchewan-made. The author was born and raised in the small town of Balgonie. The publisher, DriverWorks Ink, is Regina-based. And the book was printed in Saskatoon.

    The book is available at Chapters Indigo bookstores, or online at or

    © Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

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