Category Archives: James Erlandsen – leukemia fighter

Chinese-Canadians that inspired me in 2007

Last year in 2006, the Vancouver Sun published a list of 100 Influential Chinese-Canadians in B.C. in BC…. to much criticism – positive and negative.  I commented on my blog article: GungHaggisFatChoy :: Vancouver Sun: 100 Influential Chinese…

I am now working on my list of “Chinese-Canadians that inspired me in 2007”

I was inspired by seeing the name of Roy Mah, in the Vancouver Sun's list of people we lost in 2007, and shared the idea with my friend George Jung.   Rather than create a list of newsworthy or influential Chinese Canadians, we decided on CC's that inspired us.  This way there is NO
official requirement or standards.  It is  very subjective and personal.

I also emailed some friends to create their own lists:  David Wong and Gabriel Yu have sent me replies.  David's list can be viewed on

In no order, other than who came to mind first, who has crossed my path, and reviewing my blog to remind myself who I wrote about in 2007.

Roy Mah
the founder of Chinatown News, was written about in the Vancouver Sun
after celebrating his 90th birthday, as well as when the City of
Vancouver declared July 12th Roy Mah Day, in recognition of his
memorial service.  I have known Roy since I submitted an article back in the early '80's.  When he would make his regular trips to the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch, he would also wave to me sitting at the Information desk.
Thekla Lit
for her work with Alpha Canada, promoting the film Rape of Nanjing, and inviting media and public to meet Comfort Women survivors.  Gabriel says that a columnist on the Global Chinese Press
has named Thekla the Chinese-Canadian of 2007, as she and her husband Joseph have been busy on these issues for a long decade.  I got to know Thekla when she joined the committee for Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign in the months preceding the 2006 federal election.  She is a very smart women, not afraid to say what she thinks.

James Erlandsen
the young Eurasian SFU Student needing a bone marrow donor as he fights
leukemia (James was named honourary drummer for the Gung Haggis Fat
Choy Dragon boat team).  James reminded me so much of my own 1989 battle with cancer, even going to the same high school and university.  There have been ups and downs, and he still puts on a brave face.  I did a City TV interview with James, when James and I met for the first time.  It was James' cousin Aynsley who first contacted me about writing about James for my blog.
Tracey Hinder
– the 15 year old inaugural BC CanSpell champion, featured in the CBC documentary GENERATIONS: The Chan Legacy.  People constantly told me after watching the documentary that they  thought that my young cousin Tracey was great in it.  She was very inspiring for the future of Canada, especially with Tracey's Eurasian heritage, learning Mandarin and being involved with her school's multiculturalism club.  This summer Tracey started an e-newsletter titled “Becoming Green” that gives suggestions how to create a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.  I knew from the beginning that Tracey had to be in the documentary.  The documentary also featured family elders Victor Wong, Helen Lee, and Gary Lee, artist/author Janice Wong and myself.  Read my blog stories about Generations: The Chan Legacy
Three generations of the Chan family: Tracey Hinder (left), Betty Wong and Todd Wong look over their family's impressive legacy.Tracey Hinder, Betty Wong and Todd Wong re: Generations: The Chan Legacy

Henry Yu
UBC professor of History, chair and organizer of the Anniversaries for Change '07 events
recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Anti-Asian Riots in
Chinatown.  Henry has organized events at UBC and throughout Vancouver recognizing the impact on Vancouver made by the 1907 Anti-Asian riot in Vancouver Chinatown, the 1947 franchise for Chinese Canadians enabling them full citizenship rights, the new immigration act of 1967, and the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.  Henry has attended many Gung Haggis Fat Choy and Asian
Canadian Writers' Workshop events over the past few years.  Henry always seems to have boundless enthusiasm and energy for all his projects.  But this past year was also significantly inspiring because he also became a cancer support person for his wife (see below).

Brandy Lien-Worrall – editor of Eating Stories: a Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck
and All Mixed Up – a Hapa anthology.  It is easy to be impressed by all the writing and editing projects that Brandy is involved in.  I got to know Brandy better when I took
the writing workshops sponsored by the Chinese Canadian Historical
Society of BC.  I truly learned what an incredible dynamo she is. She pushed us to write creatively, and from the heart.  And it was fun to have my stories and pictures published in
Eating Stories. Read:
Eating Stories, a Chinese Canadian and Aboriginal Potluck: book launch Nov 25th at Vancouver Museum
.  But more important to recognize is that Brandy finished editing Eating Stories in between chemotherapy treatments, after she was diagnosed with cancer in the summer.  Soon she started up a cancer blog in addition to her poem a day blog, and her 12 other blogs…  Just like James Erlandsen, Brandy is Eurasian… and also reminds me of my own cancer experience. 

Larry Wong, Todd Wong, Shirley Chan, Janice Wong with editor Brandy
Lien Worrall at the Eating Stories anthology official book launch at
Vancouver Museum – photo Deb Martin

more to come….

Jen Sookfong Lee

Margaret Gallagher

Karin Lee

Bill Wong

Vicki Wong

Joseph Wu

Tricia Collins

see part II
More Chjinese Canadians that Inpired me in 2007: part 2

Head Tax survivors Mrs. Der and Ralph Lee

Sid Tan – head tax activist

Bev Wong – community activist on bone marrow and blood donors

Douglas Jung building at 401 Burrard St. 

Lan Tung, leader of Orchid Ensemble, incredible musician and creator of Triaspora

Wesley Lowe – film maker, creator of I Am the Canadian Delegate – story of Douglas Jung

George Chow – city councilor

Raymond Louie – city councilor

Jenny Kwan – MLA

Jim Chu – 1st Vancouver police chief of Asian ancestry

Assaulted Fish – sketch comedy troupe

Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre VACT presented three productions in 2007, Cowboy VS Samaurai, Asian Comedy Night, and Bondage.

Twisting Fortunes duo – Charlie Cho and Grace Chin

Chinese Canadian veterans

ONE Match needs ethnic bone marrow donors – help leukemia patients like James Erlandsen!!!

ONE Match needs ethnic bone marrow donors – help leukemia patiens like James Erlandsen!!!

ONE Math is launching today at Metrotown in Burnaby BC.

There is a desperate need in Canada to find matching bone marrow donors – especially for ethnic patients. 

This is also the dilemma for James Erlandsen, of Chinese and Scandinavian heritage.  Earlier this year, James' cousin Aynsley Meldrum contacted me to publish a story about the search for a matching donor for James.  As a 18 year cancer survivor, I empathized with challenges that James was going through.  I have met James several times and we named him honourary captain for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  Please read my stories about James here:  GungHaggisFatChoy :: James Erlandsen – leukemia fighter

Below is a new message from Aynsley Meldrum about ONE Match that she wrote to the Facebook group “Friends of James Erlandsen.”

6:37pm November 3rd
Hi Friends of James Erlandsen!

to let you know that there is a new, “fast & easy” system in place
to test your compatibility as a donor of bone marrow and stem cells.

Go to

5mins online filling out forms, then give some saliva samples (NO
NEEDLES!!!!) so that your DNA can be added to the OneMatch registry.

reports that, “Currently OneMatch has an ethnic gap. About 85% of
registered donors are Caucasian, with only 15% from other groups such
as Asian, Indo-Canadian, Hispanic, Black or Aboriginal. Based on
extensive medical research we know that the best outcome for a patient
requiring a stem cell transplant is realized when the donor is someone
in their own ethnic community.”

So please go join, tackle your friends and co-workers and make them join.

More info:


Happy Birthday James Erlandsen! – leukemia patient turns 24 – still looking for bone marrow match

Happy Birthday James Erlandsen!
Leukemia patient turns 24 – still looking for bone marrow match

James Erlandsen wears a brand new panama hat given to him by the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  His girlfriend Leah smiles with him.  photo – Bev Wong

James Erlandsen turned 24 years old today – July 7, 2007.

We were honoured to attend a birthday dinner dinner on Friday Night for James.  In February James was diagnosed with accute lymphocytic leukemia, a rare type of leukemia where the outcome is often death in weeks or months.  James was all smiles and good spirits at the dinner which was arranged on about 24 hours notice.  It is difficult to plan things in advance because of the fatigue, and depression which takes its toll on Jaime, from both the disease and the chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

On Sunday, Jaime is returning to the hospital for outpatient chemotherapy.  Earlier this year we named
James our honourary drummer for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.  He tells me he is looking forward to coming out to paddle on the dragon boat team later this summer. Earlier in June, the dragon boat team bought a panama hat for him to help protect his head – now bald from the chemotherapy treatments that kill off all fast growing cells.  When I had cancer in 1989 – my favorite hat was a panama, so I wanted to make sure that James had a real cool hat!

I first became aware of Jamie's health challenge when his cousin Aynsley Meldrum contacted me asking for help and searching for Eurasian donors as a Bone Marrow transplant is needed for James Lee ErlandsenJames' accute lymphocytic leukemia is rare, and he has no siblings.  The best chance of a match would be from somebody of mixed Eurasian ethnicity. 

I was amazed to discover that James' story was very close to my own cancer story.  We both had gone to Carson Graham Secondary School in North Vancouver.  We were both students at Simon Fraser University when our cancer and leukemia was discovered.  Our cancer and leukemia types were rare.

August 25th is set for a blood donor drive for James.  Please come and donate your blood.  Hopefully Eurasian donors can be identified for a possible match for a bone marrow donor. 

Saturday, August 25th
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Street Clinic in Vancouver
4750 Oak St, between 31st and 32nd.
It only takes about ten minutes to donate blood,
but the entire process (administration, etc.) will take about an hour. 
We'll have food, so people can stick around afterward and make a bit of a party
out of it.
If you or anyone you know would like to sign up,
please contact James's aunt, Bev, at or
Those interested in signing up will need to provide
Email Address
Phone Number
Date of Birth
Donor Number (for those who are
already registered with Canadian Blood Services)
Preferrred Half-Hour Increment Time
(e.g. 1:30 pm – 2:00 pm)
In order to donate, individuals must be between
ages 17-71 (17-61 for first-time donors), and weigh at least 110 lbs.  They
must be free of any illness, and not have had dental work for 3 days prior to
donation, or any tattoos or piercings in the 6 months prior to
Please let me know if you have any questions. 
(There is additional information available on Canadian Blood Services' website:

More information to follow up soon.  check out related stories and news articles below. James Erlandsen: 2007 honourary drummer for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team Bone Marrow transplant needed for James Lee Erlandsen… searching for Eurasian donors

Check out the Vancouver Sun article by Pamela Fayerman:

Check out stories in Georgia Straight New Blog:

Simon Fraser University “The Peak” student newspaper:

Check out stories in Ming Pao

Alcan Dragon Boat Festival Friday: Blessing Ceremony + we crash the VIP Party

Alcan Dragon Boat Festival Friday: Blessing Ceremony + we crash the VIP Party

The blessing ceremony for the 19th annual Alcan Dragon Boat Festival went well.. except for Todd being slowed by North
Shore traffic.  Channel M had just called me and was asking if our honourary drummer James Erlandsen, leukemia patient, would be on the boat…

“Nope” I said, “his white blood count is too depleted.” 
“But James' spirit will be with us when we are on the boat, and our spirit is with his, in his recovery back to health.” We are helping to find a matching Eurasian bone marrow for James.  3 of our paddlers are Eurasian, and we have 3 inter-racial couples on the team! Hapa is s-o-o-o in!

Hmmm…. I arrived late and the team was already on the dock.  I
brought down the kilts which paddler Stuart Mackinnon and Drummer Deb each quickly put on. Team Captain
Jim Blatherwick already had his kilt on.

We loaded up the boat, and Taoist priests were already chanting and
dotting the eyes of the dragons…   then we paddled away from the
Dragon Zone dock.  Usually it is this time that drummer Deb does her
introductions of new guest paddlers on the boat – but in the 1st seat –
the female priest was singing/chanting.  Hillary's mother Bev Wong (James Erlandsen's Aunt), and currently inactive paddlers Jeremy and Jen – took pictures of us and waved to us from the Dragon Zone deck.

We paddled over to a float set up on the North side of Dragon Zone –
within good viewing of the VIP lounge on the North West side of the
Science World deck.  We let off the priest + a VIP + Captain Jim… the priests did
blessings.  Captain Jim stood during the ceremonies, and chatted with
the captains of Concord dragon boat team – Fred Roman, and captain of Cathay Pacific –
May.   Jim says the priests gave him a “lucky coin”.  While we waited
the 20 minutes while the priests did their equipment takedown – We paddled some
figure 8's and Deb introduced our guest paddlers.  2 youngsters from
Kitsilano Water Demons junior team, and their coach Chek Tay – whom I
have known since 1999.

We paddled back to the Dragon Zone dock – We started saying our
goodbyes because Deb & Todd were heading off to the ADBF VIP
party, and our paddlers were deciding what to do next when they were
immediately asked to help carrying things down to the dock, as Water's
Edge was setting up the race course.  While our paddlers helped out, and Todd bumped into ADBF general manager Ann
Phelps who said that she had to go help out her volunteers at the VIP
party.  Todd asked if she needed more volunteers, and offered the GHFC
paddlers. So we all did get to go to the VIP party afterall…. but as

It was easy… we served drinks, bused the used dishes, and Todd
helped out at the reception desk.  We were told that we could relieve the
current volunteer staff, switch off and enjoy the party.  We did…  
Free wine, beer, drinks and food, food, food. 

Steven Wong saw his brother Peter who is past-president for ADBF. 
Georgia and I talked with Marlene's very good friend Patrick Couling –
who is an ADBF race advisor.  Vancouver City Councillor George Chow asked me
to help out with the 100th anniversary dinner for the 1907 Chinatown
Riots.  I chatted up the Rogers VIP representatives we had paddled over
to the float – potential sponsorship maybe?  Deb even got her father
into the VIP party, by putting a GHFC shirt over his t-shirt.  We
schmoozed, we ate, we drank, and volunteered hard. 

Hillary, our rookie paddler is amazing… This is her first Alcan Dragon Boat Festival, and she is both a paddler and a volunteer. Tonight, she bused hard, following a previous night when she did a First
Aid course for ADBF volunteers.  Two weeks ago she volunteered at the ADBF regatta,
when Gung Haggis wasn't paddling.  And she will do so again during the
festival.  Thank You Hillary.

Gung Haggis really helped out the ADBF tonight – both during the
blessing ceremony and for the VIP party. ADBF Communications director
Anita Webster, also said I saved her bacon this morning when I
interviewed for 2 spots during the City TV Breakfast TV morning show-
and especially for coming up for a tour of the DZ clubhouse, when the
heavens let loose the rains at 9am this morning.

Thank You everybody.  This is a FANTASTIC team, because of the high
quality of the people on the team.  It is a group that I and its team
members really enjoy being around.

Slainte, Toddish

James Erlandsen: 2007 honourary drummer for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

James Erlandsen: 2007 honourary drummer for Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team

James Erlandsen is the 2007 honourary drummer for the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team – photo courtesy of Aynsley Meldrum

2007, our honourary drummer is James Erlandsen.  James is presently
undergoing medical treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  James
has no siblings, so it’s pretty challenging to find a matching Eurasian
donor for a bone marrow transplant.

James' great-grandfather Chen Sing emigrated to Canada in 1885, paid the
head tax, worked on the CPR line until his head tax debt was repaid,
and then was one of the first Chinese pioneers in the Nicola Valley
region of B.C. James' great uncles George Sing and Ernie Sing served in

On the other side of James' family, his grandfather Edmund
Erlandsen emigrated from Norway as a young man. I've been told that
Edmund taught himself the carpentry trade from a book, at a time when
his English was very limited.

haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team paddled at Lotus Sports Club's Bill
Alley Memorial dragon boat reggatta on May 19th – photo Sean Kingsley

When I first met James at the St. Paul's Hospital on
May 7th, I gave him a Gung Haggis team shirt and invited him to come
out to paddle with us when he gets better.  I also hope to share with
him my own experiences of being a successful cancer survivor. 

Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team annually hosts a Robbie Burns
Chinese New Year dinner to celebrate BC's pioneer cultures of Scots and
Chinese, as well as many inter-cultural topics and events. 
Our entire
dragonboat team gives its  encouragement for James’ return to health,
and to also help raise awareness for the need for Eurasian bone marrow
donors.    We have 3 Eurasian paddlers on the team… and 3 Caucasian/Asian
Canadian couples!  Very Gung Haggis! 

And James' cousin Hillary Wong has just joined the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team.

and I discovered that James and I both went to Carson Graham high school in North
Vancouver, and we were both students at Simon Fraser where James was
diagnosed with leukemia at age 23, while I was diagnosed with a germ
cell tumor at age 29.  Wow!!!  too many coincidences…

In years past the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team has had honourary drummers, steersperson and paddlers.  This is to highlight the person's contributions to society, or a worthy cause.

The first honourary steersperson was architect Joe Wai, who designed the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens which has the mission statement of “building bridges.”  Joe is also my elder paternal cousin, and I have always claimed him as one of my early role models.

Community activist and former city councilor Ellen Woodsworth was our honourary drummer for the “Gung Haggis Fat Choy float entry” for the 2005 St. Patrick's Day parade.  Ellen loves the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners!

Ellen Woodsworth (honourary drummer) and Margaret Gallagher (honourary) paddler join GHFC paddler/steers Dave Samis in the 2005 St. Patrick's Day Parade – photo Todd Wong

CBC broadcaster Margaret Gallagher describes herself as Chi-rish (Chinese and Irish ancestry), and is involved in many intercultural activities in the Vancouver arts community, and has supported Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner events many times.  Margaret was an honourary paddler for the 2005 St. Patrick's Day parade.

Joy Kogawa receives her team jersey from paddlers Dan Seto and Gail Thomson – photo Todd Wong

Joy Kogawa was our honourary drummer for 2006.  She is one of Canada's most important writers, the author of Obasan, Naomi's Road and The Rain Ascends.  I am one of the leaders of Kogawa House Comittee, as we strove to successfully save Joy's childhood home from demolition.  It was this same house that her family was removed from because of the internment of Japanese Canadians during WW2, and that she wrote about in her award winning books.

I think I will have to give James a Terry Fox loonie…
Terry was
an 18 year old student at SFU when he diagnosed with his cancer.

James Erlandsen wrote today at 8:54pm

Hey Todd,

I would be honored to become the honourary drummer for your dragon boat team. Sorry I haven't responded sooner, I've been without my computer for the last few days while at the hospital.
Thanks for everything, and talk to you later.


Todd Wong wrote back today at 9:25pm

Most Excellent Dude!!!

We hope to do two major things with this honourary position:

1) lift your spirits so you can handle anything, conquer anything and give you goals to look forward to;

2) help raise continued awareness for a matching bone marrow donor for YOU!

How to help James:

Bone Marrow Donors


23-year-old James Lee Erlandsen, who was
recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, requests your
assistance.  James requires a Bone
Marrow Transplant, but has not been able to find a suitable donor.  He is of Asian and European parentage,
and the best chances for a match would be from donors of similarly mixed


If you are a healthy individual between the
ages of 17-50, and particularly if you are of mixed heritage, please consider
registering with Canadian Blood Services' Bone Marrow Donor


Individuals can submit their information
online, and they will be contacted by Canadian Blood




Please share this
information with others in your circle who might be potential bone marrow

Thank you for
your willingness to help