Wednesday, 29 October 2008

One day...............

You know, if you pick up any newspaper,watch any TV news or listen to local or national radio, it seems like not a week goes by when there is not at least one person pleading for bone marrow donors to come forward.
Maybe it's because i am "in the club" as it were due to my own Leukaemia diagnosis, but I can't help but feel compelled to try and do something constructive to assist in these appeals. It is to that end that i spoke to staff at the Anthony Nolan Trust earlier this week, offering to try and recruit potential donors by way of using Scarlet (the car) and her trailer to spread the word to people and try and educate,inform and dispel misconceptions about what being a marrow donor involves.
One day, hopefully not so far away, there will be no need to make appeals, and bone marrow donation will be as commonplace as a blood transfusion.That day needs to be sooner rather than later, to avoid the human lottery that we currently have.

The Donors Prayer

A part of me I give to you
so you can start your life anew

a chance to live your life again
to free yourself from fear and pain

to lift your spirit and faith renew
this gift of life from me to you

Andy Ward.2008

"Every passing minute,is another chance to turn it all around" Vanilla Sky (Film 2001)

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Guardian Angel.Song from the film "A Walk to Remember "

This is a film that covers the story of a teenage girl with Leukaemia who,without knowing it, becomes the saviour of a boy who is going "off the rails" with his life. The song is called "Your guardian Angel" and is written and performed by a little known group (well in the UK anyway!) called "The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus".Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Nathan Hancock appeal for a donor

Heard about another young guy (22) who is a footballer from Skeggy (Skegness). Saw his family on the telly last night appealing for people to become bone marrow donors.
I think the bit that struck me most is when his mum said "He's my only son". We have to get more people to sign up to the register, and give people like Nathan Hancock a fighting chance against this disease. Their is hope for people like Nathan. Are YOU his unknown donor ?
For me, the most frustrating fact is that around 75% of bone marrow transfers are nothing more than a glorified blood transfusion, and yet if you ask the general public what a bone marrow transplant consists of they imagine a big operation, weeks off of work and lots of pain.....this is just not the case, and possibly due to this widely held misconception it seems that not a week goes by when people such as Nathan have to make an appeal for their very lives!. Surely it is within the realms of possibility to one day bone marrow transplants will become as common, and as accepted as blood transfusion.
This is a link to Nathan's appeal:

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bone marrow (Stem Cell) donation....the facts

This is an entry that I found on Adrian Sudburys blog page "Baldy's Blog". I took the liberty of "pinching it" for this blog as it may help to dispel some of the myths and worries that surround the process of giving bone marrow, and hopefully will keep the momentum going for the vision that Adrian had of recruiting more people to become donors.

"This is a video showing how around 75% of all bone marrow donation is carried out these days.
If you want to get on one of the donor registers all you have to do is ask about it next time you give blood.
The National Blood Service provides a bone marrow register.
Alternatively, you could get in touch with the Anthony Nolan Trust.
They can send out a special blood testing kit which you can take with you to your GP.
You then post your sample back to the trust.
Specialists can tell from your blood whether you are a potential tissue match for someone or not. Your details are then entered onto one of the databases.
The two organisations work together so you only need to be on one.
If you were a match for someone who needed a transplant, and you still wanted to help, you would be given a number of injections of a naturally occurring hormone called Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF), four days prior to the donation.
This stimulates your bone marrow to increase blood cell production. For example, when you are ill, GCSF stimulates the marrow to make more white blood cells to fight off infection.
The injections are safe and the only side effect I experienced when I was given some on the ward was a slight ache in my bones.
A donor is then brought into hospital and hooked up to a machine called a cell separator.
As you can see from the above video a needle is put in one arm and the blood goes into the machine. The stem cells are separated by centrifugation and flow into a bag. The other parts of the blood are then returned back to the donor through a different needle.
The whole process takes around four hours.
Current research shows that these types of stem cells are the best for curing leukaemia.
However, for some conditions such as aplastic anaemia, stem cells direct from the bone marrow are more desirable.
To get these cells a bone marrow harvest is performed. This can require a two-night stay in hospital.
When I have a bone marrow sample I have to lie on my side in the foetal position. I am given a local anaesthetic and a needle is inserted into the bony bits at the back of my pelvis.
This video is not the same as a harvest but it gives you the gist.
A donor is given a general anaesthetic and the same procedure is carried out but at multiple sites. There is no bone-breaking or spine jeopardising - that is not to say it wouldn't be a bit sore in the morning!
None of these procedures are anything to be taken lightly and do represent a big commitment.
The databases are expensive to maintain so they only want people on there who are determined to help.
Donors have the final say about which method they prefer.
Ideally, it is best to be OK with both. That way if someone is unable to extract enough bone marrow cells, another option for the recipient is possible.
On a personal note I used to give blood but I never joined a bone marrow register because I thought the procedure could leave you paralysed.
That, as I hope you can see, could not be further from the truth.
I'd just like to add that we live in a world that for all its good is riddled with problems and selfishness.
Joining a register is one of the true acts of altruism and human kindness.
Who knows, you may end up saving someone else on the other side of the planet."

(Adrian Sudbury May 15th,2008)

The video in the left hand column is pretty short and sweet, but it explains the process that is, as Adrian pointed out, used now days in 75% of cases to harvest bone marrow for donation to Leukaemia patients.Go on, do something amazing and give the gift of life :-)

Monday, 13 October 2008

Oi!.What about the photographs and video ?

Ok.Just thought that I would mention that due to a technical problem (my kids broke the laptop...again!), The promised video,pictures of the trip are, as of today, still on Glens hardrive caddy thingy !, and until the very nice man from Dell comes over and sorts out the laptop that has now lovingly been christened "Triggers broom" due to it having (so far!) 2 new screens,3 motherboards,2 batteries,2 keyboards,2 power supplies and several bits of plastic case, I will not be able to do any serious editing and the likes. I bet Dell will see a sudden surge in their profit margins when my 9300 comes out of warranty in December :-).

Funny, but I seem to think of loads of things that I can post here on the blog during any day of the week.Then when I get around to actually putting finger to all goes terribly blank and I end up writing any old lard just to fill in the post!....see, just done it there ! :-)

Oh yes.Fundraising wise I have now got great pleasure in telling you that the £1500 target for Leukaemia Research has now been met (Hoorah!), and Glen is not too far behind with his collection for Macmillan currently pushing £1200. The Air Ambulance collection was always going to be a little lower due to it being a shared charity between myself and Glen, but even so, we have managed just over £400 with a further £100 being added shortly.That's enough for one mission I believe...and a sandwich each for the crew!.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ah, so that's why my back hurts so much !

I popped down to the doctors today after feeling a little off colour and having some concern about a lump that i found on my back a few weeks ago.
Isn't it strange how I, like many others, "put off" going to see the GP when we find something a little disturbing or worrying, and yet in the back of our mind we know that we really should. So after a little gentle persuasion from my wife it was off to see the doc at 08.40 after fighting through the typical Sleaford gridlock that is now such a common sight. Anyway, to cut a long story short it turned out that my "lump" was in fact a cyst (with some fancy name prefixed at the start of the description!), so it appears that my concerns were unfounded.....however!.......during the course of the examination the doc commented that i had "Scoliosis" of the spine !, in other words my back has a few extra bends more that it should have !
Apparently there is no cure as such for the affliction, but i suppose it is another good reason to try and loose some weight and eat less fry ups......not good news cos i love a nice egg,bacon and sausage. Why is it that all the things that I enjoy in life seem to be either illegal,immoral or bad for my health ?
This new news also explains why after nearly 4 weeks, the pain in my back is still there from the strain I experienced the day before we started our trip to (almost!) Morocco and back.I suppose that sitting crushed up in a car with no power steering, driving almost 4000 miles in under 9 days is not what would be deemed as a good idea, and certainly not conjucive with a fast it's my own stupid fault for deciding to continue with the challenge........but it was sooooo worth it !

Joel Picker-Spence is going to be celebrating Christmas on Saturday, for reasons that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry. Myself and the kids will be popping over to drop off a nice pressie for him from ourselves and also one that Glen and Rachel have sent up from daan saath !. Actually I will be glad when he has it in his possession because my 5 year old son has been driving me bananas for the last week asking if he can have it (can't say what it is in case Joel reads this blog !), suffice to say i am sure that he will have many hours of fun with it as long as Andrew Jr doesn't try and pinch it when we leave :-).

And finally,a poem.One of my all time favourites !


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, 1927
Take care out there ! ;-)