A young professional cyclist from Stockport is due to take part in a 100 mile event to raise money for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, to support her brother who is battling a rare bone marrow disorder and has had three transplants in a year.
Hannah and Tom
Hannah Walker, 22, a four time national champion, is due to take on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 for Anthony Nolan a day after competing in the Grand Prix race for professionals. Hannah, who rides for Team WNT, has also recruited her entire cycling team to take part with her along with friends and family.
Hannah’s 20 year old brother Tom Walker was diagnosed with Aplastic Anaemia in May last year after experiencing problems with fatigue.
Hannah says, ‘He was really tired and pale, my mum and dad convinced him to get it checked out and eventually he had a blood test. The doctors originally thought it was glandular fever, so it was a massive shock for our family that he had aplastic anaemia. We’d never heard of the disorder, we were just plunged into a world we don’t know anything about.’
Tom underwent chemotherapy treatment and was told his best hope of a long term cure was a bone marrow transplant. A match was found for Tom and he received a transplant in July, but sadly he suffered from complications and was told he would need another transplant. A second donor was found for Tom and after more chemotherapy he received a second transplant, spending his 20th birthday in hospital.
‘For his birthday we took him a cake and made the best of the situation’, says Hannah. ‘We felt happy there was another match but we didn’t get our hopes up. We remained positive and make sure we did everything to keep Tom’s spirits up.’
The family were dealt the crushing blow that his second transplant had also failed and doctors decided to turn to Hannah to donate her bone marrow to her brother. Hannah went on to donate in February this year but later the family were told that, devastatingly, this hadn’t worked either.
‘I just was hoping it would work. I’d do anything for my brother and didn’t think twice about it – I was glad to be able to offer a ray of hope. When I found out it didn’t work - I was really upset and it was just another setback. We thought it might be third time lucky and, with it coming up to a year of treatment, we just thought where will it end? But I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to donate and give him a chance.’
Tom is now in a stable state and undergoing more treatment. Hannah is determined to support her brother and the charity Anthony Nolan, which matches bone marrow donors to people in desperate need of a transplant like Tom. The charity also has a pioneering Research Institute which aims to improve outcomes from transplants, something that is very close to Hannah’s heart..
‘I want to raise funds and awareness for Anthony Nolan. Their work is vital to giving people like my brother a fighting chance against blood cancer. The more donors they recruit and the more lifesaving research they carry out, the more lives will be saved and the more successful transplants will be.’
‘If you sign up you can save a life, it’s so easy to do and is virtually pain-free process just like giving blood. If you do get chosen to donate it’s such a big achievement – for families like ours, it’s a gift you can’t buy.’
To sponsor Hannah and her team go to www.justgiving.com/HannahWalkerandTEAMWNT/
If you are aged 16-30 you can sign up to the Anthony Nolan register by clicking on the button below.