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A Day to Unite – World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day brings people together across the world who have been affected by the disease.

As a specialist nurse in the patient services team at blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, my job is to provide information and support for patients and families who have had a stem cell transplant. Recovery can be challenging and everyone’s experience will vary – so it’s important that they know they are not alone.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life changing and often unexpected, especially for young people. Suddenly their lives change and they need to think about treatment, side effects and prognosis. Having a stem cell transplant can be daunting and recovery can be long and uncertain. It’s vital that patients and families receive the right information at the right time to provide education and support. It’s not just about managing side effects but empowering them to know how to take care of themselves and to gain confidence and independence again. One of the essential parts of my role is for them to know that support is available and they can contact us at any time.

This is one of the reasons why World Cancer Day on 4 February is so brilliant – it’s a global display of support and compassion for people who are experiencing different kinds of cancer, wherever they are. Along with nine other UK charities, Anthony Nolan is selling customised Unity Bands as a way to show cancer patients that they are not alone. The money raised will help fund our innovative research, recruit new donors to the register, and expand our specialist services to help even more patients.

Of course, there are many ways to make a difference – if you’re 16-30 you can register as a stem cell donor, or if you’re an expectant mother at a participating maternity unit you can sign up to donate your cord blood – but wearing a Unity Band is a start.

Without our donors, fundraisers, campaigners and volunteers, our lifesaving work wouldn’t be possible.

A young transplant recipient I work with, Georgina, said of her stem cell donor:

‘I was so unbelievably grateful that someone was doing this for me, but I was also terrified because I knew I had all of this treatment to go through.’

‘When I was finally well enough to write them a letter, I told them how much of a hero they were – that they were an unsung hero. It didn’t just save my life – it was my life, my friends and families lives too. If they wanted to meet, I’d love to.’

Without our donors, fundraisers, campaigners and volunteers, our lifesaving work wouldn’t be possible. To join us and order your Unity Band, visit www.anthonynolan.org/worldcancerday

Hayley Leonard
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