AN Earby man battling a rare blood cancer has launched an appeal to find the help that could save his life.
Robert Hayhurst (27), of Green End Avenue, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia last summer, and has been told he needs a bone marrow transplant.
With no suitable matches in his family, Robert has called on friends and strangers, from near and far, to increase the chances of him finding a donor.
A special event will be held at New Road Community Centre a week tomorrow for potential donors to register.
Robert said the leukaemia diagnosis was a complete bolt out of the blue.
He said: “I had a throat infection that I couldn’t seem to get rid of. At the time, I was trying to join the Army, and couldn’t understand why I had failed a fitness test.
“I went to the doctors and had a blood test, which showed the leukaemia. I couldn’t believe it, you never expect it to happen to you.”
The aggressive disease starts in the bone marrow where new blood cells, or stem cells, grow abnormally into leukemic ones, and overcrowd the healthy cells. Its causes are largely unknown.
Robert underwent four courses of chemotherapy from June to November last year, and was delighted to be told he had gone into remission. He was able to return to work as a machinist in Skipton.
But in March came the devastating news the cancer had returned, and the former West Craven High student has been told the best way to keep the disease at bay, after another round of chemotherapy, will be to have the transplant.
He said: “I am having treatment at the moment at Bradford, but I have to go into remission again before I can have the bone marrow transplant.”
At the community centre from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. a week tomorrow, everyone attending will be asked to give a saliva sample and fill in a form to join the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.
Donors need to be aged between 18 and 40 and in good health. Even if not a match for him, everyone will be kept on the register and may be called on to help save another life.
Some of Robert’s friends will also be fund-raising on the day for the charity, selling cakes and special orange wrist bands made for the occasion.
Prizes for a raffle donated by businesses include free membership at Intershape Fitness in Colne, vouchers for Robert Brannon Hairdressing, a Co-op hamper, passes to Thornton Hall Farm Country Park, and a meal for two at the Stone Trough.
As well as appealing for help, Robert said a huge thank you to volunteers running the Marrow for Bob campaign, but especially to his parents and girlfriend Kirsty Muldoon for their support.
“Everyone has been brilliant. It is Kirsty who started this whole campaign to find a match. This time round the treatment is the roughest it has been, but I have just got on with it. We don’t think about what would happen if the treatment failed or the transplant didn’t happen.”
For more details on registering as a stem cell donor, visit www.anthonynolan.org