Tag Archives: Mike Brandon

The Appliance of Science

In which The Author asks for your help again

My regular readers will already be very familiar with my involvement with Anthony Nolan, a terrific UK charity which helps people in need of treatment for various forms of blood cancer. If you’re new to the story, I’ll give you a brief recap.
Two years ago, a young man from Bristol named Mike Brandon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The poor bugger had only just got engaged to his girlfriend Kate, and then received this devastating blow a week or so later. Kate and Mike’s many friends, in association with Anthony Nolan, launched a social media blitz to encourage people to sign up for the tissue donor register. Using the hashtag #Shake4Mike, they spread the word via Facebook and Twitter, and highlighted the charity’s great work in supporting Mike and other people in similar circumstances.
To cut a long story short, Kate’s aunt lives next door to my mother. I got a phone call asking me if I’d spread the word – which I was only too pleased to do. Thanks to everyone else who got behind it as well, the campaign went viral, with mainstream media at home and abroad featuring Mike’s story. The number of people signing up for the tissue register went sky-high. Almost against the odds, we found a suitable match for Mike so that he could receive pioneering stem cell treatment. He was responding well, and he and Kate tied the knot last summer, as I reported soon afterwards.
I also contacted the charity directly and asked them to send me some collection boxes, which my friends in business across South Wales have been kind enough to host. Saturday’s trip to the Bridge in Ebbw Vale yielded a not unhealthy £12.00 (plus some shrapnel, which I added to one of the boxes nearer home on Monday), bringing my individual total to over £370.
Now for the bad news …
Mike has relapsed. He found out just before Easter that his cancer has returned, despite the best efforts of his doctors here in the UK.
The good news is that he seems to be a suitable patient for even more cutting-edge medicine in the USA, and this is where we need to ask for your help. As you can probably imagine, it’s not cheap. We need to raise a jaw-dropping £400,000 to fund his stay in the States while he’s undergoing treatment. Kate has launched a crowdfunding page to appeal for donations. It’s been running less than a week, and at the time of writing the total raised stands at over £88,000.
That’s why I’m writing this now. I know many of you got involved with #Shake4Mike as a direct result of reading my earlier entries about Mike and Kate. Now, though, we don’t want your saliva – we need your money instead. If you’d like to make a donation to the appeal, you can follow the link to the Donate4Mike page and chip in a few shillings. You can also follow the campaign’s progress on Facebook and Twitter by searching for Donate4Mike.
I’ve yet to meet Mike and Kate in the flesh, but I’ll address this last paragraph to them directly.
I take my hat off to you, Mike, for your endless courage and steadfast determination to conquer your illness. I salute you, Kate, for your unswaying love in the face of almost unimaginable circumstances. I hope one day to sit and raise an elbow with you, and thank you for your inspirational and awe-inspiring presence in our lives. I’ve got everything crossed for you both.

Good News For a Change

In which The Author could be tempted to believe in miracles

If you’ve read this blog, chanced upon my Facebook, or encountered my Twitter feed at any point during the past week and a half, then you’ll already be aware of the Shake4Mike campaign.
Mike Brandon, a young man from Bristol, is suffering from leukaemia. In conjunction with the fantastic UK charity the Anthony Nolan Trust, Mike’s family, his fianceé Kate’s family, and his many friends across the country were trying to find a stem cell donor.
Kate’s aunt lives near my mother, so I was drafted in to help spread the word. I went into more detail in The Shake4Mike Appeal Needs Your Help! last week, to try and get the ball rolling. It’s a one in a thousand chance that someone will have compatible tissue, so we were facing an uphill struggle. I’ve spent much of the last ten days badgering people to take a shaky selfie and share it via social media, to try and encourage more volunteers to submit a saliva sample and join the stem cell donor register.
I’ve just had a phone call from Kate’s aunt with some incredible news: a donor has been found.
As regular readers know, I keep an open mind on the existence of a Generator of Organic Diversity – but in recent years I’ve had a number of experiences which have caused me to wonder about the deep structure of the Universe. In my opinion, this weekend’s news is little short of miraculous.
Mike isn’t out of the woods by a long way, mind you. He’s got to endure more chemotherapy before the doctors can begin his treatment in earnest, and then another bout of chemotherapy afterwards.
But this weekend’s news proves that the stem cell register has the potential make the difference between life and death. We all take giving blood for granted, and I daresay many of us carry organ donor cards. In scientific terms, they’re old school. Stem cell therapy could become the equivalent of these techniques for the Third Millennium.
I’d strongly urge you to try and keep the momentum going now. If you’re aged between sixteen and thirty, resident in the UK, and can sail through the online health questionnaire, then please register for a testing kit via the Anthony Nolan Trust website. All that’s required is a saliva sample. It couldn’t be any quicker, easier or pain-free than that!
In the meantime, the Shake4Mike campaign will continue, in order to raise awareness of the stem cell register. If you haven’t already taken a Shaky Selfie and shared it online, why not do it after you’ve read this? Like registering, it takes just a couple of minutes and could help to find the next donor for someone like Mike.
Finally, if you can spare some cash to fund the trust’s incredible work, you can donate at their website. Why not organise your own event to spread the word and help to pay for their continued work? Please don’t let this head of steam fizzle out now.
On behalf of Mike’s family and Kate’s family, thanks for reading this!