Becca Anderson, 28, from Westcliffe Way, South Shields will run the Great North Run this year, in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust, the blood cancer charity which helped her get a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
The trust matches individuals who are willing to donate their blood stem cells or bone marrow, with people in need of life-saving transplants. Just as Becca was nine years ago.
In May 2010, at just 18 years-old, Becca was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Her only chances of survival were three rounds of intense chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant.
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None of her family were a match, but after three months of searching, the Anthony Nolan Trust was able to find her a donor, and on December 3, 2010, she received her transplant. Becca was given the all clear from cancer six months later.
“It’s a slow process, it takes about a year to fully recover, but you are constantly living in fear,” said Becca who was nominated for Role Model of the Year in the Pride of South Tyneside Awards 2011.
“You have got to build up your immune system from nothing. It’s only been in the last two or three years I have thought, ‘I can start living a life and taking advantage of these years I’ve been given’.”
Now she is celebrating nine years of being cancer-free, by showing her appreciation for the charity that saved her life, and offering her support for those still waiting for a match.
She is aiming to raise £1 for each day of her life she has got back following her transplant, bringing the total amount to £3,201 by the day of the half marathon on September 8, 2019.
“Nine years ago I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow, and now I’m going to be running 13 miles. It just shows how much you can push your body, if you’ve got the help of a stranger,” she said.
“I’m not a natural runner, it’s out of my comfort zone completely, but giving up three hours of my time is nothing compared to the doctors and nurses who have sacrificed their time and weekends just to give me a better life.”
Having launched the fundraising campaign just a month ago, the donations page already sits at over £1,000.
“I never thought it was going to raise as much as it has,” said Becca. “It’s more about raising awareness for the charity, and the possibility of being a donor.
“People don’t realise that they can be on a register, or that they could do it while they are still alive. There’s so much published on being an organ donor, but not much on donating bone marrow.
“It must be such an opportunity for someone to donate something, while being alive.”
Becca has reached out to her own donor, but the two are yet to meet in person. She dreams of the possibility of being united on the day of the Great North Run.
“How amazing would that be? It would be wonderful to meet her and thank her in person,” she said.
“I’m only planning on doing it once so let’s do it in style.”
You can help Becca’s campaign and donate to The Anthony Nolan Trust at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RebeccaAndersonGNR2019