Ilfracombe cancer sufferer is calling on North Devon to sign up as stem cell donors

Tish Edwards, 45, from Ilfracombe, is calling on more full Asian stem cell donors to sign up. Picture: Sarah Howells
Tish Edwards, 45, from Ilfracombe, is calling on more full Asian stem cell donors to sign up. Picture: Sarah Howells

Ilfracombe mother-of-two is calling on more people - particularly those of Asian ethnicity - to sign up as stem cell donors.

An Ilfracombe mother who is battling cancer is calling on people to sign up as stem cell donors – particularly North Devon’s Asian community.

Tish Edwards, 45, was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2012, but despite copious treatment, has come out of remission twice.

During her second round of treatment, Tish had a stem cell transplant using her own cells, but now her bone marrow is ‘knackered’ and she needs a donor.

The mother-of-three, whose parents are both Indian, said there is a shortage of full Asian donors and is campaigning to raise awareness and increase this number.

She said: “It’s a cultural thing; you’re brought up that way.

“I never gave blood; I just didn’t think about it because I wasn’t brought up to. You’re not aware of the demand until you need it yourself.”

Tish and her friends have set up a Facebook group – ‘Tish’s ‘stem cell’ Asian persuasion’ – to try and spread awareness around the country.

Tish added: “There is a massive Asian community in Devon, and in England.

“We need to get the message out to them to think about donating.”

Tish, who works at Perrigo in Braunton, is currently awaiting radiotherapy before she can attempt treatment again.

She said: “My journey might not get to the stem cell treatment now, because my bone marrow might not recover enough.

“But I hope this campaign will encourage others to donate.”

The charity Anthony Nolan, which holds the register for stem cell donors, said there are currently 798 active potential donors in North Devon and Torridge.

Karen Archer, regional recruitment manager for Anthony Nolan, said: “We urgently need more people to join our register and in particular Asian donors who are underrepresented on the register.

“By building and diversifying our register we will be able to provide the best match to even more people like Tish.”

Joining the bone marrow register is simple: just fill in a form and provide a saliva sample. Around 90 per cent of donations are similar to donating blood. Find out more at www.anthonynolan.org.

Turn to pages 22 and 23 in this week’s North Devon Gazette to find out how you can support World Cancer Day.

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