Tag Archives: Sloan-Kettering

Platelets For Phoebe

“06880” reader Amy Scarella writes:

There is an amazing 13-year-old friend here in Westport. Phoebe is battling leukemia, and is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant next week. That’s great news. Her only sibling, Hallie, beat the 1-in-4 odds of being a match, and is courageously giving her sister another chance at life. Hallie is 12. Though the girls are very different, they are incredibly close. Both attend Bedford Middle School.

When Phoebe learned she had  bone cancer of the leg 2 years ago — on her mom Ellen’s birthday — the town of Westport rallied around the Spear family to help in any way possible.Through Caringbridge.org Phoebe developed a world-wide fan base. She made connections with other kids with cancer all over the country, as well as on the pediatric oncology floor at Sloan-Kettering.

When Phoebe went for her 2-year check up in April, everyone noted how great she looked and how happy she was. After chemo, 2 surgeries, 2 attempts at physical therapy and all of the side effects, Phoebe was on her way back to normal (as normal as can be when you have a lung screening each month).

But as Phoebe and Ellen pulled off Exit 18, a doctor asked them to return.  On Monday morning they found out Phoebe had secondary cancer — this time in her blood. It is very rare in people under 70.

Phoebe (left) and Hallie Spear.

Phoebe (left) and Hallie Spear.

Phoebe spent her 14th birthday the other day receiving chemo, fighting off nausea and sleepiness. She’ll receive her bone marrow next week. Her hair is once again gone.

Phoebe is extremely intelligent. She knows how to read her monitor, and understands the terminology used for her condition. She doesn’t complain. She is more concerned about why cancer exists, and would rather discuss her experience from an academic perspective than an emotional one.

This trying time has been made more difficult because Phoebe is not producing platelets. She receives them intravenously, for 5 hours a day. These platelets come from donations made at Sloan by friends, family and perfect strangers. Donors must have a decent iron count,and cannot be pregnant. Any blood type works, and anything Phoebe does not use will go to another patient.

A bone marrow transplant requires a lot of platelets. So I ask anyone who is able to consider donating (she will need platelets for a month). I did it a few weeks ago and am going back Thursday afternoon (I’m happy to drive in with anyone interested). They even have free cookies! 

Thank you for reading this. Please forward it to anyone who might step up. The Spear family is so grateful. Phoebe sent me an e-card thanking me for my donation. No child should ever write that note.

Targeting A Triathlon

Rick Spear once thought he’d be a doctor or lawyer.  But the lure of Wall Street was strong.  So in 1984, immediately after graduating from Stanford — where his thesis advisor was Condoleezza Rice — he started making serious money.

Eight years with Morgan Stanley was followed by a decade as a management consultant, advising financial services firms.

In 2003 — age 40 — Spear retired.

He’d always been a bicycle racer.  Now — with time on his hands — he vowed to improve.

Rick Spear

Out of that desire came Target Training.  Spear opened the Westport triathlon and cycling training center and retail store in 2005 as a way to “leverage knowledge of endurance sports to help people like me have healthier bodies.”

A 2nd site opened recently in Greenwich.

“Endurance for Life” is Target Training’s motto.  “You can’t fake being fit — running 5 miles, or biking 50 miles,” Spear says.

Target’s target audience is hard-working (and well-off) men and women.  They train hard.  And typically, as soon as they meet one goal, they look for a new challenge.

Here’s a big one.  This Sunday (June 19), Target Training sponsors its 1st-ever Sprint Triathlon.  The half-mile swim, 13-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run begins and ends at Sherwood Island.  The middle portions takes racers through the Green’s Farms  and Compo neighborhoods.

A portion of the proceeds goes to Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Cancer Care pediatrics department.  It is a cause dear to Spear’s heart.

In its half-decade in Westport, Target Training has been closely involved with community activities.  They sponsor, or work with, the Young Woman’s League Minute Man race, Andy Boas’s Charter Oak Challenge Foundation bike tour, Sound Cyclists and  ABC House.

This month’s triathlon builds on the training Target is known for.  It’s not only cyclists and runners who flock to the center next to Great Cakes — swimmers also work out under the Target banner at the Staples and Longshore and Norwalk Y pools, as well as Compo and Sherwood Island.

On Sunday, Spear will help out — not compete.  “I’m a bike racer, not a triathlete,” he says.   But, he adds — like the competitor he was on Wall Street, and remains today — “I win my share.”

(For more information on Target Training’s Sprint Triathlon, click here.)