On 22 November, we celebrated some of our amazing supporters at the 2018 Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards in the Tower of London. One of the winners, Janet Qualters, has been a dedicated supporter for 30 years in memory of her son, Daniel..
I’ve been involved with Anthony Nolan ever since my son died, 30 years ago in August 2018.
He was diagnosed with leukaemia and after 10 months of treatment, he needed a bone marrow transplant. But there wasn’t a donor for Daniel. He died when he was two years old.
That’s why I started supporting Anthony Nolan. I don’t want anybody to go through what he went through and what I went through as a mother. Even after 30 years, it doesn’t get any easier.
I think about him every single day
It helps me to know that I’m helping others but really, I do it for Daniel, so that he hasn’t died in vain. So far, we’ve recruited over 1,000 people to the stem cell register and some of them have been a match for someone who needed a transplant. We’ve also raised over £100,000 - I’ll always keep going.
It feels good to know that people’s lives have been changed, because of Daniel. I hope his memory will live on for a long while, through what I’m doing. He deserves that.
Even when he was in hospital having treatment he was such a gorgeous little boy. He never complained, he was always helping all the other children. He’d be walking about holding hands with them and kissing them.
He was too good for this world. I think about him every single day.
People want to help, they just don’t know about it
I remember one event I did with new RAF recruits, I talked about Daniel and afterwards, bar a few people who couldn’t register because of medical reasons, they all came up to me and gave me a hug, with tears in their eyes and said “’Janet, we would have joined the register before, but we didn’t know about it.” And that’s just it. People don’t know about it.
Realising that these young people would do it, if only they knew – that spurred me on.
When I think about all the people who could have been saved, I feel a bit frustrated. I know what it’s like to have your son dying in front of you, knowing that there’s someone out there who could save them, but you can’t find them because they’re not on the register.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone who needed a stem cell transplant could have one? If you can, please, go on the register so you’re there if someone needs you.
My top fundraising tips
My best advice is to always ask. The worst a person can do is say no and you’re not going to see them again, are you? Just walk away and go ask the next person.
When I was at an event at 10 Downing Street, someone mentioned that Stella McCartney was in the room so I went over. She looked at me as if to say, “Who the hell are you?” but I just asked, “Do you have an old frock you don’t want, for my charity raffle?” and she said “You can have a new one if you like.” She ended up sending me a handbag and it raised £3,000. If I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have got it, would I?
Although, I always say I’d never ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. Which is how I ended up doing a sponsored skydive at 60!
I’m very proud of Daniel and it’s lovely to be recognised at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards. It’s him who should be getting the praise – not me. I’m proud of my other son too, Christopher. He joined the stem cell register as soon as he could. Sometimes I think “Oh I can’t do this” and they bounce me back up.
I talk a lot about Daniel and the impact that losing him has had on my family and myself. I tell people that by signing up you could stop this from happening to somebody else. I’m always apologising to Daniel – saying “Sorry Daniel, I’m going to use your photo again!” but I know he wouldn’t mind.
I think he was sent here for a reason and this is it. He keeps me going, even now.