Harun was 26 when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in 2003.
‘The first thought that came into my head was – oh my God, I’m going to die. It just came as such a shock so I started preparing for death rather than preparing for treatment.
But once I got to The Christie Hospital they explained everything and it got easier from there. Finding a donor was difficult because there aren’t a lot of Asian people on the register, but thankfully my older brother came through for me.
‘I had started working in the patient transport service in 2003, but I had to take two years off. My colleagues were fantastic; they kept my job open and were so supportive. My ambition was to become a paramedic and I finally completed the course and qualified in 2009. There’s been a time in my life when I’ve needed a lot of help and there were a lot of people to help me; I feel that this is my way of paying the community back.
‘At the time of my transplant I didn’t have time to think about it, so the psychological trauma hit me afterwards. Exercise has really helped me relieve stress and stop me thinking about the past.
I go to the gym every morning that I’m not at work, or I go for a bike ride – I’ve started downhill mountain biking, too. The illness is in the back of my head every day when I wake up but doing exercise makes the whole thought process a lot easier.
‘Since my transplant, I feel that life is definitely for living. I try not to waste one moment of it anymore; I just try to move on. One piece of advice I’d give to patients is to stay mentally strong. There’s not much you can do about the physical aspect of it, but if you stay mentally strong, you’ll get through. And if you can’t do it hour by hour, do it minute by minute.’