Wednesday, 12 February 2014
You were 'bone' a hero
What does it mean to be a hero?
Every 20 minutes, somebody in the UK is told that they have a blood cancer. Once upon a world-changing moment in 2012, that somebody was one of my best friends Emily. She never saw it coming. None of us saw it coming.
We live our lives in bubbles. It doesn't mean that we're naive about the risks associated with living; we know how cruel the world can be. We witness terrible things happening around us and we see the pain of other people. But by nature, for the sake of our own sanity, we just don't live our lives with the expectation that such terrible things will affect us personally. And then they do, and suddenly that bubble bursts and we're welcomed to the explicit dreadfulness of the human experience. We are immune to nothing, and that includes blood cancer. It could happen to our mum, our dad, our brother, our sister, our son, our daughter, our neighbour, our best friend, anyone. It could happen to me. It could happen to you. It could happen to the person you love most in this world. One day, any one of us could find ourselves sat before a consultant, being told the news that will change everything. 'You've got blood cancer.'
On Friday, thanks to the extraordinary work of the Anthony Nolan charity, Emily underwent a bone marrow transplant. A 34 year old man from Germany, a total stranger to us all, became one of the most important people that has ever walked this earth. He became one of my heroes, and he will never know the significance of my gratitude. There are never guarantees with blood cancer, but this transplant has given Emily the best possible opportunity at kicking the hideous ass of this disease once and for all. And this remarkable stranger has given her so much more than just his awesome bone marrow. He's given her a chance, hope, a future, the opportunity to chase more sunsets and get out in the world and live the life that a 23 year old should be living. He's given her the most invaluable gift of all; time. I never knew it was possible to love a stranger so much.
Unfortunately, there are not enough people on the register to provide a match for everyone. As it stands, there are many people in need of transplants who will never get them. Emily was one of the lucky ones.
What does it mean to be a hero?
You don't need a superpower, outright fearlessness, or cheese-grater abs to be a hero. You don't need an insane, fictional lifestyle or viral media coverage. You don't need the expert skill of kissing passionately whilst upside down. You don't even need a funky, skin-hugging costume and cape. Nope, the truest of heroes are the people who walk among us; the people who can give a mother their daughter back or a daughter their life back, or a life its future back. The truest of heroes are those who don't even think of themselves as heroes, but who become heroes in the hearts of others during pain and adversity, just like this 34 year old German stranger has to me. By existing, we all have the potential to become one of those heroes and to do something absolutely extraordinary. It's in your bones, quite literally.
I am the cure for blood cancer. You are the cure for blood cancer. Make a difference, I dare you. And if you're not inspired to do it for Emily, or for me, or even for yourself, then do it for those people who matter to you, the people that you love, the same people who one day may need their own hero.
We are fortunate enough that most lifetimes are made up of lots of 20 minute intervals, but we are unfortunate in that we will never know when that world-changing moment may be ours.
You can read more about Emily here, and can find out more information via the links below:
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