Pip has found motivation for taking on RideLondon in some incredible places – from supporting one of her closest friends, to becoming a stem cell donor herself! This is her amazing, and lifesaving, journey.
I signed up to the stem cell register through Anthony Nolan in 2013 when one of my closest friends was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Without hesitation I got myself on the register, just in case I was a match for her. It was so quick – I think I’ve spent more time writing this than I did signing up!
It was through my friend’s treatment that we became aware of the amazing work that Anthony Nolan does. We wanted to do something to help, so together with another close friend, we took up running and all signed up to take on the London Marathon. We never managed to complete it together, due to injuries etc., but since then we’ve each taken on our own challenges.
Both my friends completed the London Marathon, however running isn’t really my thing, so I decided to focus on cycling. I took on London to Paris and the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 in 2015 – where I cycled for Anthony Nolan. This year, I’m very excited to be cycling for them again and it feels even more special, after what happened last year.
I focused on fundraising, until a phone call changed everything
My focus was always on raising money for this amazing charity, but then in the summer last year I was given another opportunity to help. I got a phone call from Anthony Nolan saying that I had been found to be a match for someone! I was completely amazed and overwhelmed with this news. They asked if I was happy to get further tests done and donate should I be the best match. It was really a no brainier. Of course, I was happy to go ahead!
I had a few more blood tests to see if I was the strongest match for the patient… I was! Next step was to have a medical to make sure that I was fit and able to donate… I passed, phew!
I donated through PBSC (peripheral blood stem cell donation) which is what 90% of donations are done through. I just needed an injection over four days prior to the actual donation. It was super easy, the nurse worked around my schedule and came to my work and home.
On my donation day
It all felt very surreal. I couldn’t believe that after all these years, and the journey we had been on, from my friend’s diagnosis, to the training, the marathons, the bike rides, this was actually happening. I was excited and a little bit nervous. The nerves disappeared as soon as I got to The London Clinic – the team there were brilliant, they were so friendly and made me feel very comfortable.
The donation process itself was so simple. It took about four hours, so I got to sit back and catch up on some films. The best bit was that there were six other people donating! It was such an incredible feeling to see that and to be a part of it.
Once I had finished donating, I was given a gorgeous lunch and Anthony Nolan had arranged for a taxi to take me home, so I didn’t have to worry about anything. Just before leaving I was told that they had collected almost double the amount of stem cells that they needed! I was over the moon!
I headed off home smiling ear to ear, knowing that just a few hours of my time could have given someone a second chance. It’s a very small price to pay to give someone that gift- get yourself signed up!
Donating my stem cells made me want to keep fundraising
I hope that my experience creates a ripple effect and encourages more people to get on the register, it’s honestly so easy and painless. And while you’re at it, why not sign up for a fundraising challenge? There are so many ways for you to give people a second chance at life.
When I was called up as a match for a patient, it reminded me that this was exactly the reason I’d been fundraising – to help more people get matched with stem cell donors.
This year I’m very excited and extremely proud to be taking on the Prudential RideLondon for Anthony Nolan. I cannot wait to wear the Anthony Nolan jersey! I just hope I can get enough sponsorship to get the green jersey 😀 just like my friend did when she ran the London Marathon.
She is my inspiration when taking on these challenges and it really pushes me to complete them. I couldn’t have done this without my truly amazing friends! It has been quite a journey.
To anyone thinking of taking on a similar challenge…
There’s something very special about taking on a charity challenge, everyone from those taking part in the event, to those in the crowds, they all come together and support one another from start to finish.
I have to say that among all the bike rides I’ve taken on over the years Anthony Nolan make it so personal and support you all the way, which makes a HUGE difference. You really get to know one another, so even if you sign up to a challenge on your own, you’ll never feel like you are by yourself and alone.
If you’re on the fence about signing up, I would just say just bite the bullet and do it, you’ll surprise yourself and be surprised at just how much fun it is. You’ll make some amazing memories and friends along the way, and you’ll get a nice medal at the end of it which you can brag about!
Inspired to join Pip on #TeamAN (how could you not be?!) – sign up to ride with Team Anthony Nolan to receive VIP support including an exclusive training and nutrition day, Strava group and slick personalised cycling jersey. Plus the incredible feeling of saving the lives of people with blood cancer. Join the team at anthonynolan.org/ridelondon