Giving Back: a Personal Journey of Stem Cell Donation

At Relay for Life, we’re very proud of the contribution we make towards bringing forward the day when all cancers are cured. We shout about how we are the front line in the battle against a disease that takes so much.

I’m fully behind this cause, and have been delighted and honoured to be part of this fight; but wanted to share with you a journey I am undertaking to help the fight in a different, more personal way. Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about my progress in hopes of expanding understanding and awareness of the ongoing fight against blood cancer.


In early 2011 our family received the news that my dad had leukaemia. It was a difficult time for us all but, thanks to the incredible work of Cancer Research UK, the dedication of his phenomenal medical team, and a stem cell donor found through the Anthony Nolan register, we are lucky enough to have him with us today. That’s why I was eager to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register and give someone a greater chance of recovery.


For those of you who don’t know, Anthony Nolan is a pioneering charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer who need a blood stem cell, or bone marrow transplant. In 1974, Anthony Nolan’s mother, Shirley, set up the world’s first bone marrow register to match donors with people who desperately needed a transplant. Now, every day, they help two people in need of a lifesaving transplant by using their register to find remarkable donors who have matching stem cells, or bone marrow.


Signing up is easy. There’s a brief application form on the website, they send you a little vile for you to spit into (yes I know you think it’s gross but they need your DNA to make a match!) then you post it back. Simple! More information can be found at


So that was how I began my journey. It was so simple; such a small thing to do. But I had a sense of accomplishment and pride that I was on the register; part of the reserve team ready to be called upon if required.

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