Paul, 36, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and had his transplant in 2010. While in isolation, he developed a penchant for DIY that kept him going.
‘I was diagnosed in April but I felt absolutely fine. I was away skiing, having a whale of a time. After the holiday I got a pain in my tooth that wouldn’t go away.
My doctor said it was probably a virus, so we did a blood test. I got a phone call half an hour later; it was my GP telling me to get to St George’s immediately. That’s when they told me.
‘I think the mental battle is one of the biggest issues people face. I have always been a real outdoorsy guy so isolation was a challenge. But I found a routine and controlled whatever I could.
In the evenings I would watch Grand Designs; I found it fascinating and it became an evening ritual.
As soon as I was in recovery, I started looking for houses and now I’m renovating my own. I think Kevin McCloud would be reallypleased with that!
‘Since having my transplant, I’ve spoken to many people about Anthony Nolan. I had never heard of them before, but now I wouldn’t be here without them. I am remarkably grateful.
During my illness, friends organised a drive to get more people on the register. It gave me an enormous amount of mental support to know that my friends were making a difference. The chance of one of my friends being a match was small, but if everyone got their friends to join – chances are, someone would benefit.
‘Three months after my transplant I wrote a card to my donor, who wrote back. After two years, I wrote to ask if he would meet me. I have thought a lot about what I’d say if we met, and to be honest I’m still not sure. I haven’t heard back from him, and while I’d love to meet, I also wouldn’t want him to feel any pressure. He’s already done an immense amount for me.’