UoY student, Marrow volunteer and cancer survivor, Anie Hu, tells us her story of recovery and why you should be on the stem cell register.
At 3pm on the 23rd of September 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer. After that, the hospital became my home and I was prodded and pricked on a daily basis. I was holding the hands of mothers who were being told their child was coming out of surgery with one less leg or not coming out at all, which was something an 18 year old should not have been doing.
It became normal to have 2am wake-up calls, having a temperature over 40 degrees and crying almost every night just begging for it all to stop and something good to come my way.
I remember one Thursday afternoon, I’d not eaten in 40 hours and I could feel my stomach screaming for food, I was so hungry I was curled up in pain. Then I heard the doctor come into the ward, he sat by my friend’s bed and told her she had three stem cell matches in the UK. Her parents were overjoyed - she had hope. I looked at the date and realised I’d been on the worldwide stem cell register for seven months and still hadn’t found a match. I felt worthless. I wasn’t going to be given the chance to live because there was no one out there for me.
The time then came where we had to make do. My father was a weak match but it was my only chance. Aged 18 I signed away my fertility and my self confidence. I thought I may never be normal again and I may have health risks and constant side effects.
I was told in July this year that I have the all-clear and am essentially cured. It was truly a miracle and I’m so lucky. Just like my friends who also had matches – just like Rachel, like Billy and like Katie, amongst others.
That’s not to say that it always works and that it’s a smooth and easy road to recovery. Recovery is a strange word when you’re still working out how to transition to normal life living for all those friends you made who did not make it.Some of those friends who would still be here today if there was a match for them on the register.
AND MY GOD. I MISS THEM. Biba, I wish I could pick up the phone and gossip about how much I hate Made In Chelsea. Alice, I wish I could have given you a last cuddle.
''The register is an incredible thing, we all have the opportunity to help each other. If more people were on the register then maybe I wouldn’t have had to say goodbye to so many friends.''
So, for everyone else out there who did not get the chance… or the match or the luck. Let’s get as many people as possible onto the stem cell register so we don’t have to keep adding names to the list of people we’ve had to say goodbye to for something WE CAN CHANGE.
YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO CURE CANCER!
It could be your best friend, your mum, your uncle or your daughter. The register is an incredible thing, we all have the opportunity to help each other. If more people were on the register then maybe I wouldn’t have had to say goodbye to so many friends. People aren’t just going to stop being diagnosed with blood cancers and disease, so as much as funding research is important, do something that doesn’t cost you much as a healthy person.
Donating your stem cells can give people the chance at life they wouldn’t have without you. Donating allows another life, another smile, another happy parent, another person who gets the chance to experience their dreams rather than having to say goodbye as there was nobody to save them.
Katie’s just miraculously had a baby – Billy has just gone on to secure a modelling contract! Amazing. That’s thanks to those who donated. That’s another life, that’s another smile, another happy parent, another person who got the chance to live their dreams rather than having to say goodbye because there was no one out there to save them.
Please join the stem cell register and help save the lives of people with blood cancers and disorders. You can cure blood cancer.
- Anie Hu, University of York
YUSU’s volunteering project Marrow helps recruit people to the Antony Nolan Stem Cell Register, helping to link potential donors with people who desperately need a stem cell transplant. Marrow are always looking for volunteers and donors. Find out more here.