Luke joined the Anthony Nolan stem cell register in 2013 after loosing his uncle to multiple myeloma. Few years later he became a donor himself. Here is his story:
How it all started…
I joined the Anthony Nolan register back in 2013, at a Lincoln Marrow ‘Give a Spit’ event.
This was not my first time hearing about Anthony Nolan; my late uncle, Graham Shaw, was diagnosed with cancer (multiple myeloma) in approximately 2010. He received a self-to-self stem cell procedure and went into remission for 2 years.
Unfortunately he relapsed, but was then matched with a donor from the Anthony Nolan register and received a donation in early 2013 – which worked until he contracted a lung infection in hospital that he could not fight.
As soon as I was old enough I joined the Anthony Nolan register, simply because of the sense of hope that was given by that donation to all of the family.
I joined the register in his memory, in the knowledge that I might never be needed. But if that day should come, I would be there just like the donor, and Anthony Nolan was for my uncle.
Becoming a Match…
That day came with a text message asking me to get in touch – I was pleased to hear that out of everyone on the register I was a match.
My family were extremely proud, and a little worried, due to it happening alongside my final year of university. Everyone understood the process very well, due to my uncle’s experience – some of them had even been tested to see if they were a match during his illness. They were extremely supportive with my decision to donate.
I purposely did not tell my aunt until after the donation. That phone call was a hugely special moment.
I told some close friends, as well as my family, about what I was going to be doing and the question always came: ‘How will that procedure affect you?’.
Although not a concern to me, as I wanted to help, I did read and re-read the documentation sent by Anthony Nolan. However the visit to my donation centre – and the fantastic nurse there who talked me through every step – made it clear that donating was not as scary as those around me had thought.
After completing a home blood test, then a hospital pre-donation checkup, I was all set to begin the process. The nurse gave me all the information I needed about stem cell donation (PBSCT) and answered any questions I had. I even got to meet some other lifesavers that day, too.
On the run-up to the donation nurses visited me at home to give little injections and then I travelled to hospital to begin my donation. I have certainly felt worse pain, and I was able to carry on studying and going about my day.
The procedure was super easy. I sat in bed proofreading some uni work (I’m studying for a BSc in Computer Information Systems), watching The Big Bang Theory on my laptop and listening to music – keeping one arm still throughout. I am a regular blood donor and it felt very much the same! It was a long day but totally worth it.
A visitor from one of the Anthony Nolan team came to say thanks, and once I had received the okay from the lab tests, I was on my way.
I can now say ‘been there, done that, got the T-shirt’. All of this happened in my final year of university. I could’ve said ‘No, it’s the wrong time’, but for someone out there who needs it, it was exactly the right time.
I would recommend joining the register to anyone who can. Getting a donor brings hope to those with blood cancer and their families.
Register to become a donor and become a life saver like Luke did. https://www.anthonynolan.org/join