Tony Williams, 56, is running the Virgin Money London Marathon on 24 April to raise money for more stem cell donors like the hero that saved his daughter, Emily.
My daughter Emily was five years old when she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anaemia back in 2005. She’d been unwell for a long time before that but the doctors were at a loss, mistaking her shortness of breath and fatigue for normal tiredness or asthma.
When she was finally diagnosed her platelet and red blood counts were dangerously low and she began to have regular blood and platelet transfusions to keep her alive, while Anthony Nolan searched the UK and international registers for a matching donor. There were several times where a transplant almost went ahead, but fell through at the last moment. At last, in 2011, at the age of ten, Emily’s transplant went ahead – all thanks to one amazing anonymous donor.
Despite Emily suffering hair loss and some sickness from the pre-transplant chemotherapy, the transplant went well, and six weeks later she was allowed home. We haven’t looked back. Emily’s now a normal 16 year old, about to sit her GCSEs, and she’ll start a course in health and social care at college in September. She wants to work with kids in a hospital environment and knows that because of her experiences, she has a lot to offer them.
It was Emily that nagged me to enter the marathon to raise money for Anthony Nolan – I’ve run five before, for causes like a respite home for young people with cerebral palsy and the Aplastic Anaemia Trust. It’s nice to be running for a cause that’s so important to me and my family and knowing the difference it could make.
I’m definitely finding training harder than last time I ran it and there are times I just can’t be bothered to go out for a run, but I remind myself why I’m doing it and force myself to go. I’m aiming to raise £2,500 for Anthony Nolan, which will go towards recruiting new potential donors to help other people like Emily in future.
I would absolutely encourage people to sign up to the donor register if they can – it could save someone’s life and give the patient a hope they didn’t have before. Without Anthony Nolan, the NHS and the donor, Emily wouldn’t be here today.
I’m pressuring myself to get a good time and aiming to get round in 4.5 hours – it’ll be tough, but Emily will be there on the day to cheer me on, and that will make it all worth it.’
When I was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia I was only five years old. I didn’t understand what was going on and how ill I really was. I’m very proud of my dad for running the marathon and I’ll be there on the day to cheer him round.
My mum, Sadie, and my dad have been great, they have helped me get better by making sure I followed a strict treatment and medicine regime when I was an outpatient. My dad’s raising money to help Anthony Nolan, to say ‘thank you’, and to help save the lives of other children like me.
One day I also want to meet my donor and thank him for saving my life.
I love you, Dad, and good luck on marathon day!
The difference it will make
Kirsty Low, Head of Events at Anthony Nolan, said: ‘It’s great to hear that Emily is doing so well, all thanks to the actions of a selfless donor. The money Tony raises will help us recruit more donors to save the lives of people like Emily. With less than a week to go until marathon day, we wish Tony and all our Anthony Nolan runners the best of luck – we’ll be cheering them on along the way!’
To show your support for Tony and Emily, and to donate to Tony’s marathon fundraising efforts, visit their Virgin Money Giving page here.