A newly married medic is desperately searching for a matching bone marrow donor so that she can have a potentially life-saving transplant.
Tania Ba-Obeid, 32, from North London, is battling lymphoma for the third time and has now been told that she needs to have a bone marrow transplant within the next few months.
Tania, who got married in July, said: “Two years ago it seemed like I had the world in my hands - I had just got engaged, our offer for a house was accepted, I had good career prospects and then there it came…like a train crash!
“After two years of chemo and two relapses my life is now on hold and the priority is just to stay alive.”
Tania was diagnosed with an aggressive form of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma just after her 30th birthday in December 2012.
She had developed flu-like symptoms, night sweats, a rash and she was losing weight.
Working as a medic she had recently been contact with people with TB so feared she might have caught it.
However, a sexual health check-up then revealed a mass which she was concerned could be a sign of cervical cancer.
She paid for private tests which quickly revealed the devastating news that she actually had lymphoma.
'It was the worst nightmare ever'
Tania said: “It was the worst nightmare ever as I was really unwell but didn’t know what was wrong with me – it was scary and quite confusing.
“I was actually quite relieved when I was first diagnosed – I was really hopeful because I knew the cure rate for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma was quite good.”
Tania had months of chemotherapy and was told she was in remission.
Just a few months later, Tania noticed her rash had returned and, at the end of last year, she was told the cancer had returned.
She had more chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant during which she was given some of her own stem cells back after intensive chemotherapy.
It was believed that this had cured the lymphoma and Tania married her partner, William Ringer, who is an architect.
She said: “I was on top of the world and I felt great. I thought I was starting a whole new chapter. I remember sitting at the top table at the wedding thinking that the cancer had gone and that it would not be back.”
Tragically, this was not the end of the story.
'It's torture - there is a sense of desperation'
In the months following her wedding, Tania noticed that she was getting very tired, was losing weight and she developed a severe case of shingles. Then the tell-tale rash returned.
She said: “I remember crying in the shower when I saw the rash. I knew the cancer had relapsed again.
“It’s torture – there is a sense of desperation.”
Tania was rapidly told that she would need a bone marrow transplant but she knew it would be hard to find a matching donor as she is from an ethnic minority background – her mother is Filipino and her father is from Yemen and half Indonesian.
She was dealt another blow when tests revealed that her only sister is not a match for her.
She said: “Being of an ethnic minority in England, I always knew the odds were against me to find a donor. I hope that by sharing my story I will be one small step towards getting closer to finding a donor.
“If anyone is thinking of joining I would say ‘don’t think about it – just do it’. It would mean the absolute world to me. It would mean the difference between living a life and not. It would mean more to me than they could ever know.
“People should realise that by simply registering they can make a profound difference to people in my position.”
Finding a donor for Tania
Anthony Nolan is now searching its register, as well as the international bone marrow donor registers, in the hope of finding a potential donor for Tania.
She is also urging more people between the ages of 16 to 30 to sign up. It is particularly important that people from ethnic minority backgrounds sign up as they are currently underrepresented on the register.
This means that only 20 per cent of transplant recipients from ethnic minorities receive a perfect match, compared to 60 per cent of all recipients.
For more information about Tania’s story, visit her Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanias-Appeal-for-Stem-Cell-Donor/1546457732234565
If you're aged between 16-30 and in good general health, join the Anthony Nolan register by clicking on the button below: