A bone marrow donor from Conwy is cycling 100 miles to support a cancer charity, after losing both his parents and one of his sisters to the disease and curing a stranger of the condition.
Glyn Hughes, 44, lost his father to lung cancer in 1987 when he was just 15 and his mother died of cancer over a decade later in 1999.
Last August, Glyn had a call from one of his sisters, Nia Hughes, 53, to give the shock news that his other sister, Anwen, had breast cancer and was due to undergo an operation to remove a tumour.
Glyn with his sister Nia who sadly passed away in September 2014
Anwen responded well to the treatment, but in the same month, Glyn received a call from Nia’s partner to say that Nia had just been diagnosed with lung cancer and had days to live. Nia sadly passed away in September, aged just 54.
Glyn says, ‘That month was incredibly hard to receive both phone calls. I was in complete shock when I heard. After losing both my parents you just assume the worst.’
Incredibly, Glyn has since had the rare chance to prevent another family from going through the same tragedy. He himself saved a stranger’s life by donating his bone marrow to someone with blood cancer who was in desperate need of a transplant Glynn joined the Anthony Nolan register 10 years ago after seeing an appeal for a local girl called Anna Culshaw, who had a rare form of cancer.
‘I was at work and a couple of people called round to say they were asking people to join the register for Anna. I admit I didn’t know anything about donating but I signed up as I just wanted to help another family. I didn’t hear anything more for years so after a while I just forgot about it and got on with life.’
In May 2013, Glyn got the call he never expected – he was a match for a stranger in desperate need of a transplant. Only 1 in 1200 people on the Anthony Nolan register are ever called up to donate, as there are so many thousands of different tissue types.
‘When I got the call from Anthony Nolan I thought it was a joke, I couldn’t believe it. I researched it and found out how easy it all was and how rare it was to be a match. I realised it was a chance of a lifetime that not everyone experiences to save someone’s life. It was like winning the lottery.’
Glyn eventually donated in September 2013 in London, which was his first trip to the capital.
‘The whole process was so easy, it was just like giving blood. I did reflect back and think about my family and how cancer has affected us. I knew how terrible it is to lose someone to cancer and I felt empowered to have the chance to stop that happening to another family.’
Tragically, it was the following year that Glyn received the devastating news from his sisters Nia and Anwen about their own battles with cancer.
‘It was devastating and I remember wishing there was a way of saving Nia in the same way that bone marrow and stem cell donors can save people with blood cancer.’
Glyn recently received an anonymous card in the post to let him know that his recipient is doing well.
‘It was so touching to receive this card, they couldn’t thank me enough. I just couldn’t believe it; I’ve read it so many times and shown everyone. I hope I get to meet them one day,’ he says.
Glyn is now going one step further to save the lives of people with blood cancer by taking part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 event for Anthony Nolan, a week before his wedding to fiancée Lynda.
‘I want to raise money and awareness for this great charity that helped me to change someone’s life. I want as many people as possible to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register - it’s so easy and it’s surprising how many people don’t know about it.’
To sponsor Glyn’s effort go to virginmoneygiving.com/GlynHughes2
If you're aged 16-30 you can join the Anthony Nolan register by clicking on the button below: