This year, Becca is celebrating nine years since her lifesaving stem cell transplant by taking on the Great North Run for Anthony Nolan. She talks about her motivation and the special fundraising target she’s hoping to reach, with your help.
I was on my way to a party when I got the phone call from my dad. The hospital had called the house and said I needed to go in straightaway. Obviously, we were in a panic – none of us knew what it meant. I’d been feeling poorly for a few months, but I was 18 years old and living my life. I wasn’t expecting something so serious.
When the doctor said it was cancer, the first words out of my mouth were: ’I’m going to die’. There were lots of tears.
I kept saying it until my mam’s best friend looked me straight in the eye and said: ‘Yeah, you are. But not because of this. You’ve got loads of years ahead of you.’ And that was it. I believed her.
They told me straightaway that I needed a stem cell transplant. They could get rid of my leukaemia cells with chemotherapy, but they didn’t know how long it would be before they came back. A transplant was my best chance of a cure.
Nobody in my family was a match, so Anthony Nolan searched the register. They found someone who was an 84% match and, while it wasn’t a perfect match, we decided to go for it.
Looking back, I was so naïve. I never thought that I wouldn’t find a match. I never felt scared. It was just a case of ‘OK, you’ll get me a donor from the register then.’ Now that I’ve seen many people not getting matches, I realise how lucky I was.
I had my transplant on 3 December 2010 and I was out of hospital in January. Recovery isn’t easy – I just wanted to get back to normal life, but it felt like someone had taken my batteries out. It just takes time.
Nine years on, I still have the feeling in the back of my mind: what if it comes back…. But I just live my life to the fullest for all the people who haven’t had this chance.
I have a pretty unique way of celebrating each year. Because I never made it to that party, I said: ‘I’m not opening that bottle Apple Sourz until I’m healthy.’ So now I do a shot of Apple Sourz with my friends for each year that I’ve been healthy – something they’re less enthusiastic about as the years go on!
Why I’m taking on the Great North Run for Anthony Nolan
When I decided to do the Great North Run, it had to be for Anthony Nolan. Without Anthony Nolan, I genuinely wouldn’t be here. And so many other people wouldn’t be here. I took it for granted all those years ago that a was donor was found for me, without realising the reason why.
This is the first running challenge that I’ve done. Running has never interested me in the slightest, but the atmosphere at the Great North Run is always so good. I said to myself: ‘If I get a place, I’ll do it’ and here we are!
I’m planning to write my donor a letter to say thank you. Part of me wants to tell her that I’m doing the Great North Run – because you never know, she could be a runner and just imagine if we ended up running it together!
All I’m asking for is one minute and one pound
I’ve set myself a target to raise £1 for every day from my transplant to the Great North Run– which is £3,201. Running 13 miles is nothing compared to months of chemotherapy and being in hospital for weeks, unable to see anybody. That’s what I keep thinking about when I’m training. I’ve been through worse. I can do this.
Becca recorded a video to share her incredible story and ask people to help her on the way to her £3,201 target:
I hope that people watching the video sign up to the register too. It only takes a minute to go online and request your swabs. Just think about what someone with blood cancer is going through – you might be the only person who can help them. A tiny bit of pain and a few hours sat in a hospital bed is nothing compared to giving somebody the chance of life.
You can help Becca reach her special fundraising target for the Great North Run at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=RebeccaAndersonGNR2019&pageUrl=1. Your support means Anthony Nolan can give three people like her a second chance of life every day. Without you there is no cure.