I thought I should give an update as to where I am with my 30 Before 30 list because I’ve actually ticked something off. And it’s an important one too. In fact, when I first wrote the list, I bumped this one up to the top and promised myself that whatever happened, I would complete this thing first.
For various reasons, I’ve been going to register with the Anthony Nolan trust for a long while. But it quickly became one of those things that I just never got around to doing. The Anthony Nolan trust is a charity supporting people with blood cancer who need stem cell or bone marrow transplants. Being on the register means that the folks at Anthony Nolan can match the donors on their register with people who need a transplant and y’know, save more lives. But they always need more people. More people, under the age of 30, to register as a donor.
There are lots of myths surrounding bone marrow transplant: that the process involves having a limb snapped off so that the bone marrow can be scooped out and it’s THE MOST PAINFUL THING EVER, and you might not ever recover from the procedure.
That might be a bit of an exaggeration – except for the “IT’S THE MOST PAINFUL THING EVER” bit on the end, because the second you mention bone marrow transplant, that’s usually the first thing people say after screwing their face up. Usually people who probably know nothing about it but heard somebody else say that once, and so they feel they should pass the information on.
If you’re a regular(ish) reader of this blog, or if you’re someone who knows me, you’ll be roughly aware that I’m not a very brave or confident person. Hearing that the charitable thing I wanted to do was possibly THE MOST PAINFUL THING EVER was, admittedly, a little off-putting.
Alongside my complete lack of confidence are feelings of guilt. So you can imagine how conflicted I was feeling having already half-decided that I was going to register and at the same time being terrified about it being the most painful thing ever. To illustrate my point, it all looks a little something like this:
I went round and round in circles for a long while until eventually, I told myself to stop toying with the idea. I was either definitely going to register or I definitely wasn’t. So I went on to the Anthony Nolan site and did the research for myself (which included watching this little animation all about what’s involved in the donation process). After spending a good couple of hours clicking through the site, my mind was made up.
I realised I had to do it. And what’s more, I wanted to. Even though I don’t like hospitals, and I have a low pain threshold, and I don’t like blood or operations and I’m incredibly squeamish. I shrugged all that off and filled in the form, because the only thing worse than registering after everything I’d learned about the process would be to not register.
My stem cells could be used to help someone whose own immune system is failing. Those stem cells could potentially save someone’s life, and what I realised was that however painful or uncomfortable the donation process was – it could save the life of someone who had been through far, far worse.
So before Christmas, I registered. Last week I got my official donor card.
If I only did one thing on my list before I turned 30, it would most definitely be this one.