Running for a cause

This weekend thousands of people will descend on Hamilton to take part in the oldest road race in North America. Some will run the Around the Bay to kick off a new running season. And at least one London man will be doing it for very personal reasons.

It was just routine bloodwork. But the process raised a life saving red flag 3-years ago for Boyd Dunleavey of London. A summer trip to Chicago was hijacked when Boyd came down with flu like symptoms. He went for bloodwork and got a call from his doctor: “We found out afterwards if we’d gone out of town I probably would have died because I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. And when they did the bone marrow biopsy they found out that 80% of the white blood cells were cancerous.”

Immediately hospitalized in London, the father of 3 was put on aggressive rounds of chemotherapy. But Boyd’s leukemia was rare. Survival, according to doctors, was a bone marrow transplant: “We’ve never seen this before. You have to have a transplant. Your sister’s not a good donor. And you have a 90% chance of it coming back within a year if we don’t get a transplant done for you.”

Though the chances were one in a million, a match was found through the One Match Registry. There were hurdles, but eventually Boyd got the transplant in Hamilton at the Juravinski Cancer Centre. In the two years since, he’s found support from an unlikely group — the running community: “Runners are an amazing group of people because they’re always running for different causes. And there were all these different people who were running for leukemia.”

It’s a community he decided to join. despite the daily challenges his recovery brings: “I still have challenges with nerve pain and neck pain. But you just run. And it’s weird because I get winded going up stairs, and I can run. I have trouble tying my shoes and I can run.”

This weekend, Boyd will test his progress and his training — taking on 30-kilometres in the Around the Bay Road Race. It’s his way of honouring those who saved his life: “People get on with their life and they move on and nobody comes back to say thanks and I wanted to thank the city.”

Boyd’s run is also meant to promote the bone marrow registry — as well as blood donations to Canadian Blood Services.


  1. What a truly inspirational story. We all run for various reasons but to have the courage to overcome your hurdles is truly awesome! I wish for a great many more runs.

  2. Hi I signed up with the bone match register over a decade ago and it is a great program with so many positive people. I was honoured when I got a call asking me to donate stem cells to someone who needed them. I would do it again if I was ever asked.

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