Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mike Peters of The Alarm Requests, Gives Love, Hope, Strength For Leukemia

It must be tough being a celebrity with all sorts of expectations and traps by their fans and the public, I myself can be pretty judgmental, though here at GMM we try to only promote the positive, not dwell on the negative. Especially when it concerns promoting values or opinions, celebrities - whether athlete, musician, or actor - have to worry if they are turning away fans of differing opinions, you also have to be careful when they start a charity as often they can turn out to be less than well-run. For the most part though, medical causes are a safe bet. Last night, I had the opportunity to be inspired by someone doing it right.

Mike Peters, former lead singer of 80's band The Alarm, played at Shank Hall in an intimate one-man show focusing on The Alarm's second studio album Strength. I could review how cool the show was to see him up close and personal, acoustic with minimal back track assistance, the fact he played harmonica or a bass drum at the same time as the guitar, or his stories about making the album - but this isn't the place for that. As inspiring as the show was, the end of it turned into a truly GMM moment when Peters took a moment to promote his foundation Love Hope Strength, which focuses on getting people to sign up on the list to be marrow donors.

One of The Alarm's biggest songs, Strength, has the lyrics "Give Me Love, Give Me Hope, Give Me Strength", words that gave the name to the foundation that supports an illness Peters himself has battled twice: cancer, namely Leukemia.

Mike Peters of The Alarm at Shank Hall
Love Hope Strength Foundation as a charity promotes innovative, music related, outreach and awareness programs for leukemia and cancer sufferers, survivors and their families. The mission is to save lives, right now, with the advances that have already been made in cancer care. They do not fund cancer research, rather they use the funds to purchase medical equipment and supplies, raise awareness through special events, documentaries and media, build cancer centers and raises awareness and recruits potential donors to the organ and bone marrow registers.

Though the song is about love, a relationship, the next lyrics of Strength are almost prophetic for what Peters needed the same as other people with Leukemia:

Who will light the fire
That I need to survive
Who will be the life blood
Coursing through my veins

"Life blood coursing through my veins", the blood stem cells given to patients. To treat Leukemia, high-dose chemotherapy is the most effective currently established method to kill the cells cells and can cure some patients. However, it also severely damages the remaining normal blood-forming cells in the bone marrow. To replace these cells, patients are given a haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) collected from a matched donor.

Getting and finding matches is the hard part, and LHSF is doing its best to help that cause. So far, they have been able to register over 100,000 individuals to the registry and find over 1,848 lifesaving matches at venues throughout the UK and USA, from the music fans during gigs, who have become donors for those with Leukemia and other diseases who would otherwise be denied the chance of life. You can join the club as it were and be one of the many more needed to ensure everyone has a match if needed.

If you would like to register as a donor, go here and sign up. All it takes to be ID's is a cheek swab, and if a match a donation is as simple as giving blood. When marrow donation is mentioned, most people think of the surgical procedure where they literally go into your bones (usually pelvic) and draw marrow, but in most (75%) cases now, Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) is used: a non-surgical, outpatient procedure that collects blood stem cells via the bloodstream. It takes about 4-8 hours on 1-2 consecutive days. Even if the surgical procedure is needed, its little to sacrifice to save the life of another,