As the editor of Jewish News so powerfully stated in a heartfelt message to me this week, they now have to write the article that they never hoped they’d have to write.
After my Mum’s four-year battle with leukaemia and following a number of stem cell transplants – initially from an anonymous donor, and latterly from me, her son (and a 50 percent match) – the blood cancer couldn’t be beaten.
Only a few days after her passing, I can’t quite comprehend how to fully deal with her absence. Particularly with Seder night only a couple of days after, and a conspicuous empty chair at the table.
However my Mum would have wanted us to just get on with things, not make a fuss, do the right thing.
For me, part of this is looking to the future, providing support to others going through a similar (but never identical) journey through what my Dad refers to as “the leukaemia years”.
The amazing supporters of the #Spit4Mum campaign, all around the world, helped to create a huge legacy of lifesavers.
During the campaign, we saw a 1,700 percent increase in the number of Jewish donors.
This led to several stem cell donors being found for other patients from those who registered during our campaign.
At one point, North West London had the highest proportion of donors out of anywhere in the UK.
All this showed the power of a simple message: the willingness of friends to lend a hand and of strangers who are willing to save to the life of somebody who could so easily be their mum, grandmother or friend.
I feel there’s still a lot more to do. We need to change the system so that the odds aren’t stacked against those from minority groups.
My mind changes from a desperate campaign of encouraging people to register as individuals to changing the whole system so that everyone knows they have the power to save a life, to be a superhero, so following registration at birth, and by allowing people to choose whether they wish to remain on the registry at 16.
By doing so, we will increase the low odds of ethnic minorities finding a match. That would be a fantastic legacy in itself.
Knowing that other families would not have to suffer as we did would make it all the more worthwhile.