After Holly donated her stem cells in May 2017, she kick-started a mission to tell as many people as possible about Anthony Nolan as well as raise lifesaving funds.
Spreading the word
Donating my stem cells was just the start of my lifelong journey with Anthony Nolan. Throughout my donation, I had taken to social media to try and spread the word to the people I knew, to explain what I was doing.
I shared posts, pictures and videos about my Anthony Nolan journey and it was very overwhelming the response I got. People, both who I know and who I have never met, sharing stories of their loved ones needing stem cell transplants or signing up because of me.
I read them and didn’t really take them in, thinking this must be about someone else. It wasn’t until a friend texted me to say, you really need to read all of them, see what an amazing thing you have done, that I did. Out of my friends, over 60 people have joined, although I have no idea how many people actually went on to sign up because I shared my story.
Thinking about my recipient
By this point, Anthony Nolan is part of your everyday life. I think continually about my recipient – maybe because I’ve seen how hard it is from their end. I’m not sure, but you can almost picture what they are going through when you have gone back to normal life. It’s at the points when you aren’t doing anything and your mind starts to wonder that you try to picture where they are sat.
Six months went by and I got my first letter from Anthony Nolan to say that my ‘recipient was doing well but was having common complications’. Big relief! I have now also had my ‘one year later’ letter with the same response.
Going the extra mile
Time continued going on, and my recipient was always somewhere close to the front of my mind. So, when a friend of my persuaded me to do a half ironman triathlon I couldn’t think of a better cause to raise money for.
I always think that raising money at one event is hard. People don’t like sponsoring if you haven’t actually done it yet! So I did three in the run up as training events. A half marathon, Olympic triathlon and then my finale of the half ironman.
By race one, I’d smashed my initial target of £300, by race two I’d upped my target to £600, and low and behold we were getting there. After my half ironman I was on £870, and now (following one more half marathon to push it over the line…) I’ve broken £1,000. Pretty successful I’d say!
As well as that, Anthony Nolan has been brought back into the lives of so many people, even if they don’t realise it. The more they hear it, the more normal it gets to talk about.
The best bit is that of those people that donated, hundreds more would have seen the posts, and of those, even more people will have been told about what I was doing. I know this because they’ve since asked me about it!
The Anthony Nolan journey continues
Anthony Nolan will never not be a part of my life, the memories of telling people my story and just generally getting involved. The hope is that one day, my dream of being able to meet my recipient or just be told that they are better and have a full life to live, will come true. For that I will just have to keep my fingers crossed and if it doesn’t, I know I have done my very best for them.
For donors out there, or potential donors just starting your journey, spread the word but be in the knowledge that there are other people who have done the same as you and would support you at any time if needed. I’m one of them and would answer the phone to any potential donor or donor any day, to just be a friendly face to talk about our very unique experience.
For recipients, you have a group of people who have got your back! Keep being you and we will keep helping you, to be you.
If you’re keen to go the extra mile like Holly, find out more about how you can support Anthony Nolan’s work at anthonynolan.org/events