Bengu Shail was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in September 2009. After two years of intensive treatment, she went into remission. Since then, she's spent her time helping other cancer patients at Macmillan Cancer Support in her role as a Case Studies Officer.
However, in October 2012, Bengu received the devastating news that her leukaemia has returned. Now Bengu's only hope for survival is a bone marrow transplant from a stranger willing to donate their bone marrow.
As she was born in North Cyprus, Anthony Nolan has been unable to find her a donor with a matching tissue type on its UK register. Patients are most likely to find a matching donor if they have a similar ethnic background.
Bengu says, "All of us want a cure for cancer. In my case, the cure is not in the hands of scientists, it's in the hands of my community - selfless people who are willing to spare a few hours of their time to give someone like me a chance to live."
Lynsey Dickson, Regional Recruitment Manager at Anthony Nolan, said: "For patients from white Northern European backgrounds, the chance of finding a matching donor is 90%. This falls to 40% for patients with more a diverse ethnic background. People like Bengu desperately need donors to step forward and join the Anthony Nolan bone marrow register to give them a chance of life."
Androulla Stylianou from the Leukaemia Cancer Society, who specialises in recruiting donors from the Greek, Turkish and Cypriot community, said: "People die waiting for a matching donor every day, simply because they are the wrong ethnicity. Cypriot people are hugely under-represented on the register, and we need to urgently address this issue. Leukaemia can affect any one of us at any time of life so the more potential donors we have on the register, the better chance of finding a match for someone who desperately needs a transplant. We are all members of small and exclusive clubs, and when one of our fellow members needs help, only we can provide it."
Potential lifesavers can support Bengu's appeal by attending the following event, or by joining the register online today.
Saturday 8th December - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Time: 11am till 5pm
DR FASIL KUCUK TURKISH SCHOOL
Sunday 9th December - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Time: 2pm till 6pm
Cypriot Community Centre