In June 2015 my life changed forever when I was told that I had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Not only that, but also that the only possible cure to this disease was a bone marrow transplant. This meant that I needed someone with the same tissue type as me to kindly give me their stem cells and hopefully give me the opportunity to beat this cancer and go on to live the rest of my life.
Some people are lucky enough to find matches in their family, but that wasn't the case for me. I was going to be reliant on a stranger to save my life through the Anthony Nolan register. I wasn't the only person in this position - so many others are also depending on people they had never met, waiting and hoping every day that someone would come forward to save their life.
The wait for a donor was tense - part of me was utterly convinced that someone would come forward, but you always have doubts in the back of your head and worries that I would receive the dreaded news that there was just no match for me out there.
After five months of waiting, I received the news that a donor had been found for me and I was totally dumbfounded. I've had my transplant and now, I simply just want to say thank you.
I remember sitting in the doctors room and being told that a match had been found for me and being completely overwhelmed. I don't know anything about you, but that doesn't matter, you agreed to donate your bone marrow and give me the chance of life; you were willing and ready to save me. I don't know how I will ever be able to express in words how much that meant to me.
I know that all of this could not have been easy for you. Most people donate via peripheral blood stem cell collection, so it's just like giving blood, but I know that you had to donate via bone marrow harvest in a minor operation under general anesthetic. Not everyone would have gone ahead with that. Believe me, I am so grateful that you did - you gave up your time, probably had to travel, re-arrange family and work commitments - and you did this all for me. I can't believe that someone would actually be willing to do that for a complete stranger; you are a truly selfless person.
When your cells arrived for me I was so excited - this was my day zero, the first day of the rest of my life, and you were making it a possibility. Since my diagnosis, I had simply been taking one day at a time and didn't dare think about the future, but when I received your cells, that all changed. It was the first time that I felt like I really had a chance of looking forward; you genuinely gave me the opportunity to live and, as my perfect tissue match, you were the one person in the world who could make this possible. I knew that I still had a long way to go, but if it wasn't for you, then I wouldn't be going anywhere at all.
Here's a picture of me receiving your cells (you can see how happy I am)
You will be pleased to know that the cells were infused without any hitches - I even managed to eat a burger and chips whilst it was happening! Since then I have been improving all the time and your cells have been working wonders. Every day I feel a little bit stronger and that is all down to you and the wonderful gift that you gave me. I will never be able to repay you for what you have given me but I hope you know how truly grateful I am.
I hope that one day I may be able to meet you and find the words to say how truly thankful I really am. So, thank you - thank you for signing up on the register, thank you for agreeing to donate, and thank you for undergoing the operation. Thank you for saving my life.
Love from Laura
PS This is me now and its all thanks to you :)
For everyone reading this - please sign up to the Anthony Nolan register and be the hero for someone else like me at www.anthonynolan.org