Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

Sisters back campaign for more black bone marrow donors

2015-02-18 15:09:00

Maryse and Adele Gordon
SISTERLY SUPPORT: (From left) Maryse and Adele Gordon

Two sisters from west London have joined a campaign to encourage more people from the African-Caribbean community to donate bone marrow after one of them battled cancer.

After being diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma - a cancer in cells in the lymph nodes - in 2013, Adele Gordon from Greenford, had six cycles of chemotherapy treatment, before she was told she needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.

She said: "It was a very scary time, especially when you hear about the lack of African-Caribbean donors and the odds of finding that perfect match."

Luckily for Adele, her sister Maryse came up as a perfect match - defying the odds of there being only a 25-30 per cent chance of having the same tissue type as a sibling.

"It's not as painful as people think, so many refer to outdated methods of retrieving bone marrow," Maryse explained.

"It's very similar to giving blood but for a greater length of time. I was fully recovered about two days later."

About 2,000 people in the UK need a bone marrow transplant each year.

Currently, African-Caribbean people have less than a 20 per cent chance of finding the best possible match from an unrelated donor.

Adele and Maryse are now supporting a campaign by blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan and the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust (ACLT) called Being African-Caribbean, which aims to increase the numbers of African-Caribbean donors on the register, according to Get West London.

Adele said: "It's a real injustice because cancer doesn't discriminate."

Back in 2012, Adele struggled to shake off a cough. She said: "I had a cough but it was winter so I just thought it was normal. I also had no energy but because I have a busy job I didn’t think much of being tired either.

"I went to the doctors and kept getting told it could be different things over a long period of time. Eventually they suggested I have an X-ray to check it out. That's when I was told I had cancer."

After nearly a year of mis-diagnosis, Adele was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in November 2013, at just 25-years-old.

She said: "It was a massive shock. I was a young person, I don't smoke and I was just thinking, 'why me?'. I had no lumps or anything - it was just a cough."

Adele had several courses of chemotherapy, and after two cycles she was in remission but then relapsed and a further four cycles of treatment followed. It was at this point she was told she needed the bone marrow transplant.

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