THE BLOG

Superheroes Are Often Young, Male and Marginalised... But Every Young Man Could Be a Lifesaver

22/03/2016 17:20 GMT | Updated 23/03/2017 09:12 GMT

Like most young men, I spent much of my childhood watching superhero movies and dreaming about having super powers. My mum has a series of birthday photographs of me wearing Spider-Man outfits in varying states of disrepair.

And who knew that I would be lucky enough to don a similar suit later on in life? I hear all the time that I am a lucky so-and-so and I get it; I am.

One thing that a lot of comic book superheroes have in common is that they are young, male and often marginalised, bullied or unappreciated - it's only when they put on their mask or cape, that they summon an inner strength with which to protect the weak and vulnerable.

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I have the privilege and responsibility to play Spider-Man on screen, something I figure all young boys dream about but without realising that they can do something heroic and life changing without swinging across the Manhattan skyline - it's as simple as spitting in a tube and joining the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.

Men aged 16-30 are by far the most in demand as stem cell donors, but they make up only 15% of the donor register - which is why it is so crucial that young men stand up and be counted, and join this lifesaving movement. Because that is what it is; it is a simple act that does literally save people's lives and it follows that the more young male donors available, the more lives that can be saved.

We've found a cure for blood cancer. Thanks to the efforts of cleverer people than you and I, we have the upper-hand over leukaemia and other blood disorders but only if they have stem cell matches for the people unfortunate to be afflicted with this indiscriminate disease.

I only know this because I was invited to become involved with this groundbreaking charity, Anthony Nolan. I joined their register when I turned 16 (see video below) and to date I have not had that call to say that I'm a match for someone, but if and when it comes, I'd be delighted. What a privilege to be able to possibly save someone's life and for real and not just in the movies.

For whatever reason, men have not engaged with stem cell donation in the same numbers as women. This needs to change and that's why Anthony Nolan is running a campaign to understand the reasons for this shortfall and plug this lifesaving hole.

A new YouGov survey suggests the definition of a real man is changing, as 'caring' came out as the top quality of a 'real man', above 'successful', 'tough' and even 'alpha-male'.

This bodes well because the 'caring man' is exactly who Anthony Nolan is trying to reach with its new 'March of the Men' campaign. Anthony Nolan is embracing and encouraging a new and more modern masculinity in all its forms, and with good reason, because if ever there is a win-win situation, then this is it.

Any society is a just series of individuals but a successful society is one in which the individuals rely on one another and we all understand our responsibilities to each other.

If anyone in my family were to be diagnosed with a life threatening blood cancer or disorder, I would hope and pray that their donor is on the register and what a gift this register is for us all; by matching complete strangers with the gift of life. I can't think of anything more gratifying than that.

So I encourage all young men reading this to visit the Anthony Nolan website and do something amazing. You might save a life and change your life in the process because too few of us can ever genuinely claim to have saved someone's life.

www.anthonynolan.org/marchofthemen