"Dad's death inspired me to get more people on Anthony Molan register"

When his father died of a rare blood cancer in 2007, Mike Smith was inspired to learn more about the work of Anthony Nolan.

Wednesday, 14th August 2019, 3:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 2:43 pm
Could you walk 160 miles? Sheffield resident, Mike Smith, will be doing just that to help cure blood cancer in September

“After dad died, I became determined to do something good in his memory,” says Mike.

“It’s expensive to get people on the Anthony Nolan register, which is why I’ve now committed to raising £1,000 in his honour.”

It is this determination that has led Mike, a senior biomedical scientist from Malin Bridge, to announce a plan to walk 160 miles from Sheffield to London, in an effort to raise money for the blood cancer charity.

Mike will carry out the challenge, which he hopes to complete in just four days, this Saturday – as part of September’s Blood Cancer Awareness Month, which will see people from all over the country join forces to take on Anthony Nolan’s Walking Together challenge, to raise vital funds to help save the lives of people with blood cancer.

And Mike has another important reason for believing in the work of Anthony Nolan, after his own donation was used to save the life of a nine-year-old girl with blood cancer.

After registering his DNA with the charity, he was contacted in 2015 when it was revealed he was a match with the little girl who desperately needed a stem call transplant.

“All I was told was that she was nine-years-old and needed a stem cell transplant, and that I could help,” he says simply.

Mike spent five-and-a-half hours hooked up to a machine that cycled out his blood, removing the precious stem cells.

“It was just like donating blood,” says the 35-year-old.

“Afterwards I felt normal, no side effects. It’s incredible that one day of your time can give somebody an entire lifetime.”

Now Mike wants to raise £1,000 for the charity, to help register more people’s life-saving DNA.

“Anthony Nolan do incredible work, giving people a second chance at life,” he says.

“My dad never got that second chance, so I feel obligated to help give others the second chance he could never have.”

“It’s still expensive to get people on the register. Previously it's cost £40 per person, though now the charity has made the switch to swabs, £900 can buy 5,000 swabs, meaning as many as 5,000 new names on the register; that’s my aim.”

Mike will set off on his four-day walk, from Sheffield to the Anthony Nolan HQ in London, this weekend, walking 35-40 miles a day with his good friend Scott.

Mike says: ‘I decided to do such a long walk as I wanted it to be quite a challenge.

‘For training I’ve just been staying active, I don’t want to practice by doing a big walk, as I think that might put me off doing the whole thing!’

Anthony Nolan is the charity that finds matching donors for people with blood cancer who need a stem cell transplant – and gives them a second chance of life. They also carry out ground-breaking research to save more lives and provide information and support to patients after a stem cell transplant, through its clinical nurse specialists and psychologists, who help guide patients through their recovery.

Anna Scalera, Head of Community and Events at Anthony Nolan, said: ‘We are delighted that Mike is taking part in Walking Together this month. For anyone wanting to get involved, organising your own walk couldn’t be easier and the funds raised will enable us to recruit potential stem cell donors.”

Visit anthonynolan.org/walking-together