Lee was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in February 2011 and had his transplant a year later in October 2012. Unfortunately Lee relapsed and he sadly passed away in October 2013. Despite his condition Lee worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the register.
A tai chi master, Lee had connections with martial arts groups up and down the country. He set up a Facebook group to bring members together and let them know the facts about joining our register.
He also ran a monthly ‘Tai Chi in the Park’ event to raise money for Anthony Nolan. His family have given us permission to publish his photographs and tell his story.
‘I’d been teaching martial arts for a few years and I was quite active; cycling, dog-walking, the gym. I noticed some black spots on my tongue so I made an appointment with the doctor. At the surgery they were mystified and flicked through all the books for answers. They took some blood tests and I got a panicked call eight hours later, telling me to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.
‘I didn’t know anything about leukaemia or blood counts before I contracted it myself. The whole science behind transplantation is really baffling but quite amazing. I’m still trying to get my head around it. And the search process was nerve-wracking on my part, wondering if they’d find anybody. But it didn’t seem to take too long, just two or three months.
‘I think all the information I’ve managed to glean by going through the chemo and transplant is really valuable. I’ve tried to use it in conjunction with a friend of mine who’s about to have a transplant in a few weeks. We’ve also started a local support group and it’s been quite a success. We’ve been having about 20 people turn up to the local unit in Blackpool.
‘Tai chi has definitely been a mainstay for me. It helps me deal with the complications and the side effects, but also the mental stress involved with isolation and long stays in hospital. If it’s raining, I do it on the ward. If I’m in isolation, I just move the bed and do it in the room. If I’m allowed out for some fresh air, I’ll go to the courtyard. Though depending on the time of day, I could be anywhere, even the car park. Security has been called a few times – to see who the strange guy doing the tai chi was!’