Richard Jefferies, 53, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) a type of rare blood cancer ten years ago. A keen runner, he sought medical advice after finding running was becoming “harder and harder”.
Tests revealed his healthy blood cell levels to be critically low, which is indicative of MDS.
“They told me my only chance of long-term survival was through a stem cell transplant from an unrelated healthy donor,” Richard recalls.
The diagnosis came as a shock to Richard, husband to Ann-Marie and father to Luke, 20, Tabitha, 17 and Felicity, 12. He started writing ‘Turning Time’ when he was diagnosed, as a way to process his emotions and the pressure of knowing he had limited time to find a donor. “It’s based on my experience,” he says.
The book’s protagonist, Rob, is happy in life, until he stares into the eye of the tiger. From that moment, he begins a race against his time running out and a battle with the tiger, Mr Cheat.
Mr Cheat, is a characterisation of Richard’s illness. He is a constant, lurking presence and threat that Rob engages with throughout the book both physically and mentally.
Fortunately, Anthony Nolan found a matching donor for Richard in time, and his stem cell transplant was a success.
“I’m feeling really good now,” says Richard, who has taken up running again.
He finished writing ‘Turning Time’ last year and describes the story as “a detailed, philosophical and often humorous insight from first-hand experience of blood cancer and finding a cure in a stem cell transplant.”
Richard will also be donating all proceeds from the book to Anthony Nolan. He says: “I just want to keep paying them back. To keep saying thank you to Anthony Nolan for saving my life.”
Kirsty Mooney, Head of Supporter Led Fundraising at Anthony Nolan, says:
“We are over the moon that, following his transplant, Richard is living a full life, cancer-free and are incredibly grateful to him for his continuing support.
“Anthony Nolan is a charity, and by buying Turning Time this World Cancer Day, people will be helping fund more lifesaving donors onto the Anthony Nolan register, each one a potential cure for a patient – like Richard – with blood cancer.”