‘When it comes to your own health, being a doctor can be both a blessing and a curse.’
In 2014, Jaya Ravindran found out that he had acute T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukaemia – a kind of blood cancer. As a doctor himself, he knew all too well how things could go, which, he says, led to a lot of soul searching.
‘The transition of becoming a patient after being a doctor had its many challenges. However, the dignity, stoicism and courage of my fellow patients and the care, professionalism and sensitivity of the healthcare professionals was truly inspiring.’
Jaya also had something else to help him cope: poetry.
‘Poetry has always been a passion of mine but it became a form of therapy, enabling me to put my feelings – both positive and negative – into words.’
After intensive chemotherapy, Jaya had a bone marrow transplant in April 2017, and the initial results looked good.
‘As the father of a young daughter, I do not feel ready to give up my fight. The haematology teams, family and friends have given me hope, positivity, and vitality.’
Jaya has continued to use poetry to not only help himself, but also raise awareness of the Anthony Nolan register and how people can sign up to possibly help save a life. Through his own website and his poetry collection, ‘Hope’, he’s getting the word out there. His writing reflects his life: from the early days of his studies, to becoming a father, to his diagnosis of cancer and the journey that has taken him on.
‘I hope that through my book, people will get some insight into how it feels to go on this journey. For those who are suffering, I hope they can see that they are not alone, and for those supporting them, I hope it provides some insight. If the book can go some way to help raise awareness, then it is a legacy that I will be proud to leave behind.’
Every year around 2,000 people in the UK with blood cancer need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant. This is usually their last chance of survival. Three out of four of these people won’t find a matching donor within their family, so they need an unrelated donor.
For Jaya, the odds were even tougher. Only one in five patients from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background find the best possible match.
‘Few people realise that it takes little more than a mouth swab to join the stem cell register.
‘As a doctor, and now a patient, I encourage everyone to join the bone marrow register and give hope to others. I still feel deeply about continuing to help my fellow patients.’
To help spread the word, Jaya has turned his poetry into a book, which he’s using to crowdfund for Antony Nolan, Bloodwise and for his daughter’s future. www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jayaravindran.
If Jaya’s inspired you to fundraise for Anthony Nolan, check out our ideas for what you can do.