After having two stem cell transplants and celebrating 20 years in remission, Emma was inspired to put on a music charity night. With the help of friends, fellow musicians and family she managed to raise over £2,000. Here she writes about her journey leading up to this special night.
2017 marked a special milestone in my life – 20 years of being in remission. So I decided to celebrate by fundraising for the charity that found my amazing stem cell donors and saved my life: Anthony Nolan.
I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia when I was 11 years old. I had been very poorly, after having months of physical pain along with sickness and extreme fatigue, and I was initially given a poor prognosis.
I knew that unlike other forms of leukaemia, chemotherapy alone could not effectively put my illness into remission. So in order for that to happen, I was told a bone marrow transplant, sooner rather than later, would be the best possible option.
My siblings were initially tested, however they weren’t a match. It was then that doctors told me about Anthony Nolan and how they would be looking to find me a match on the register.
My first, and second, transplant
They found a remarkable donor on the Anthony Nolan register, and I had my first transplant when I was 12 years old. However, my recovery wasn’t straightforward and unfortunately, after 9 months, I relapsed. I will forever be grateful for my first donor - even though this transplant didn’t work, - their donation stopped my illness progressing.
Following my relapse, it was decided that a second transplant would be the best possible option, which I had when I was 13. Anthony Nolan found me another remarkable donor.
During and after my second transplant, I was very ill and I was in hospital having my second transplant for three months – about two months more than my first one. During my transplant, although I was in isolation, due to an infection I had to risk coming out of isolation to have a new line inserted - this was a very high risk as I had no immunity.
Once I came home, I was in semi-isolation for six months which meant I couldn’t go back to school or mix in crowded places, as my immunity was still low. On top of that, In the months before my second transplant, I experienced a lot of physical pain and was unable to walk. I had to find my independence using a wheelchair and build up my strength again.
I started back in school 18 months after my second transplant. Against all odds, I’m still here, my transplant was a success -I was once again in remission.
Being grateful to my donors
To have not one, but two donors who joined the register and donated their stem cells to me is the reason that I’m thankfully still here today. I will never be able to thank or show my gratitude enough to my donors, or the amazing work of Anthony Nolan. Without this charity, and without the amazing people that choose to register, I would not be alive today.
Marking my milestone with a thank you
So in 2017, I decided to mark the special milestone of being 20 years in remission by giving something back to the charity that quite literally saved my life.
I organised a music charity night where I performed with the help of some incredible musicians and friends who kindly gave up their time for free and helped make a brilliant success of the evening! I even had some fantastic raffle prizes donated from local shops and business.
On the night, I was surrounded by family and friends who were there to share this amazing night with me, I was completely overwhelmed by the kindness, love and support that I received. We raised £2,250, which I will make a big difference for Anthony Nolan’s work.
I will never be able to repay my donors or the charity for saving my life, but I hope the money will be used to continue to support their fantastic work
If you’re inspired by Emma’s story and want to fundraise for Anthony Nolan, check out our tips and resources or get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.