I am Will, 22 years old, shortly to be undertaking roughly a year of overestimating my capabilities as an athlete for a cause larger than myself. You can see my timetable here: https://www.williamash.co.uk/events-2017/
I will start by mitigating myself for the literates who usually engage in the joyful task of blog writing – this is new to me.
While I may lack a penchant for this sort of thing, luckily I will be writing about something which does take a lot of my attention – sports. Sporting (pun intended) a casual relationship towards exercise my entire life has kept me both interested, and thankfully, healthy. A complete absence of competitive ferocity in team games rendered me useless on a field, and I enjoyed short distance running far too much to go any further with it than necessary. Nothing like compulsory training to suck the fun out of something.
This brings me to the point of this whole blog. In a devastating turn of events, I discovered that there was in fact something and someone that meant more to me than the pure enjoyment I get from recreational masochism – Alice Byron. A daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend to my twin, and to everyone including myself, an unforgettable inspiration. At the age of 20 she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) which later manifested in to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). In July 2016, little over a year after her original diagnosis, Alice passed away at just 21 years old. Despite her odds the outside world never saw anything but positivity and determination, something her father described as an “immeasurable strength, courage and love for life”; this outlook saw her posthumously awarded the Shirley Nolan Award for Special Recognition.
Alice was recognised for her tireless efforts to promote the importance of supporting Anthony Nolan and signing up to the Bone Marrow Register. You can read her incredible blog here: www.alicebyron.com.
Also, if you are between 16-30 and would like to sign up to become a Bone Marrow donor, you can find out more here: https://www.anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells.
Here are some statistics you may or may not be familiar with:
- Every 20 minutes someone in the UK finds out they have a blood cancer.
- Around 2,000 people in the UK in need of a bone marrow transplant every year. This is usually their last chance of survival.
- Two thirds of UK patients won’t find a matching donor in their families. So they turn to Anthony Nolan to find them an unrelated donor.
With all that out of the way, these are the nicer statistics that really highlight their work:
- Every day, Anthony Nolan help three people in need of a lifesaving transplant by using their register to find donors who have matching tissue types.
- 90% of donations take place via peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection. This is a procedure similar to giving blood. It takes around 5 hours, and is a simple outpatients procedure.
- They helped find a match for over 1,200 people with blood cancer and other blood disorders last year.
Of course, to me this was an opportunity to turn pointless into positive. Hello, purpose! Admittedly my plan started out tame (although I have been informed that that is subjective), but I kept asking myself one question: how much do I want this? Apparently the answer was 39 events and an incalculable level of training. More scarily perhaps, the real answer was ‘as much as my physical self can cope with’, much to the horror of a genuinely concerned family. Nevertheless, I have always maintained that charity is not an easy road, and bigger sacrifice enables bigger support – I have no wish to retract that belief now. So here I am, a mere 11 days from my first event and not entirely sure what will be in store for me next year. Many flights are booked, many hotels paid for and many hours spent writing itineraries. Yes, I am one of those guys.
Finally, if you are interested in donating to Anthony Nolan or finding out more about what I will be getting up to next year, please follow this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/William-Ash2502.
As 2017 approaches, I go into it with two thoughts: Firstly, that while many may believe that my biggest challenge is a physical one, my loved ones recognise that my greatest challenge will be exercising both mental discipline and time management for more than about 5 minutes seconds. Secondly, I wish only that it is not done in vain. If it’s going to hurt, it would be reassuring to know that it is helping someone hurting way more than I ever will.