Tag Archives: Shake4Mike

500 Not Out – and Some Amazing News

In which The Author marks a double celebration

I’ve spent most of this week trying to think of something suitably momentous for the 500th (official) post in this blog. About half an hour ago, the perfect subject fell into my lap. Let me explain…
My regular readers will already know about my ongoing fundraising (and awareness raising) for the Anthony Nolan Trust. For the benefit of new readers, here’s a quick summary:
Last summer, the UK’s conventional and social media were full of a young man from Bristol named Mike Brandon. He was suffering from a rare form of leukaemia, and his family and friends were trying to find a suitable stem cell donor so that he could receive the vital treatment. Mike’s fiancée Kate is related to my mother’s next-door neighbour Terri. That chain of connections meant that I got asked to help spread the word, which I was only too pleased to do. I wrote several blogs about the campaign, went mental with the Shake4Mike hashtag on Twitter (getting retweets from a fair number of famous people into the bargain), and roped several of my student friends in to spreading the word around their campuses.
I’ve been updating you about Mike’s situation every so often, as well as giving my Facebook pals regular updates about the progress of the Anthony Nolan collection boxes. Only a couple of weeks ago I paid in £60.00, which had been kindly donated by the owners and customers of the Pagoda Cantonese Takeaway in Gadlys Road. I called in last night and Thi Nga was displaying the ‘Thank You’ certificate proudly on the wall.
This afternoon, I’ve paid in another £17.00 – a combined total from the Gloster Arms and the now-closed A1 Electricals. (As well as those places, you can find collection boxes dotted here and there: Spectol Dispensing Opticians, Aberdare; the Lighthouse, Aberdare; the Vapour Den, Aberdare; the Brunel Arms, Pontyclun, and the Bridge Inn, Ebbw Vale.)
As usual, I posted the news on Facebook, and I’ve just had a message from Terri. She thanked me for keeping the momentum going, and gave me some fantastic news.
Mike and Kate were married last Saturday.
They had a register office wedding in April, and Mike was in hospital just a few days before last week’s ceremony. He’s still quite poorly, but is responding well to the treatment. Terri sent me some photos of the ceremony, and I can’t believe how well he looks.


If you had any lingering doubts about the benefits of signing up for the Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Donor Register, have a good look at that photo. This time last year, it was almost inconceivable that Mike would see his wedding day.
Then a miracle happened, and a suitable donor was found. Everyone who’s registered their tissue type, everyone who’s donated money, everyone who’s spread the word about the campaign, everyone who’s done a sponsored event or organised an awareness event, should look at this photo and feel a little warm glow inside. It does matter, and it does make a difference.
I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Mike and Kate all the very best wishes for their future together. I still haven’t stopped smiling, to be honest.

A New Year Idea

In which The Author suggests a resolution to his readers

Things might have seemed fairly quiet on the Anthony Nolan Trust front since I first got behind the Shake4Mike Campaign back in the summer. However, I’m pleased to report that it’s far from the case.
To refresh your memories, Mike Brandon is a young man from Bristol who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. His doctors were trying to find a suitable tissue match for Mike, so that they could begin stem cell therapy. Mike’s fiancée Kate is related to my mother’s next-door neighbour, so I was roped in to help spread the word. The media at home and abroad got behind the appeal, to get as many new names as possible onto the stem cell register in the UK. A couple of months later I shared the good news I’d been given: a suitable donor had been found.
I’m pleased to report that Mike’s been responding well to treatment. It’s a terrific endorsement for the Anthony Nolan Trust, who sent out huge numbers of testing kits to potential donors as as a result of the Shake4Mike appeal. It’s also a testament to the power of social media to do worthwhile things, in the face of constant criticism from the technophobes.
I’m going to try and keep the momentum going if at all possible. I follow the Anthony Nolan page on Facebook, and every few weeks they bring us success stories like Mike’s, interviews with patients and donors, and news of people who, like Mike, stand to benefit from this cutting-edge treatment. So, here’s my suggestion for a New Year’s Resolution or two: I’d ask you to do the same, and ‘share’ the news updates as they come through.
Furthermore, if you fall within the eligibility criteria, please put yourself on the stem cell and/or bone marrow donor register. You can get more information via the Anthony Nolan Trust website. If you know any friends or family members who would be to eligible to join the register, please tell them about it as well. The testing process is completely painless, involving just a saliva sample. The doctors do the rest.
If you’re in university, why not organise a fund-raising event at which potential donors can pick up sampling kits? If you don’t want to go that far, just having a collection box on display can pay surprising dividends. We’ve had a box on the bar in my local pub since the summer; so far, it’s been emptied three times and a total of over £70 has raised by our regulars. It’s a quiet pub in the backstreets of Aberdare – just imagine what you could achieve in a Students’ Union with hundreds of people passing through every week!


The Anthony Nolan Trust is the one charity which I do support, because I’ve seen for myself just how important their work is. While you’re making your New Year’s Resolutions, could I ask you to make them your Good Cause to support throughout 2015 and beyond? It only takes a few minutes, and you could be the one person who can help save a complete stranger’s life. Isn’t that the best Xmas present which you could possibly give someone?