GET SUPPORT GET CONNECTED Your Voices Bansri What cancer were you diagnosed with? T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) What age were you diagnosed? 29 What has helped you to thrive? The support of my friends and family has definitely helped me to stay positive since my diagnosis. Even though it has been difficult not having any visitors allowed at the hospital due to COVID-19, we have made the most of video calls, and I am so grateful for the technology enabling us all to stay in touch. We have held weekly prayer sessions via Zoom where I can see my family and friends, and that provides me with the strength I need to get through each week. I can’t wait to be able to hug them all when it is safe again! Bansri's Story I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on 23rd July 2020, a few weeks after my 29th birthday. Prior to this, for a few months I had been feeling very tired, had frequent migraines on the right side of my head, and generally felt very weak and unable to carry out my usual exercise activities. I had repeated blood tests which all came back clear, until suddenly one day I received a call telling me that an ambulance was on its way to collect me as there were worrying signs of abnormal blood cell counts. At first, I thought I was just anaemic, and it was a complete shock to find out that I had Leukaemia. I was the first person in my family to get cancer, and we didn’t know much about this illness, although it is the most common cancer diagnosed in those 0-29 years old. I have completed three cycles of chemotherapy over the past six months, and am about to be admitted to hospital again for my stem cell transplant. Although I am in remission now, I have been told that my cancer has a strong likelihood of coming back, hence I am hoping that the stem cell transplant will help to cure me. Unfortunately, there are particular difficulties in finding stem cell donors from BAME backgrounds, who tend to be underrepresented on donor registries. This was the case for me, where I was unable to find a match on the global register and am very lucky that my sibling was a suitable match. I hope I can use my story to raise awareness of blood cancers in the ethnic minority groups, and encourage more people to join the donor registries. What was supposed to be the year of my wedding and honeymoon ended up being the most challenging time of my life. For now, I have put my wedding on hold, and it gives me something to look forward to, especially on the most difficult days. I always believe everything in life happens for a reason, and so I am trying to use this experience to focus on what it has taught me. It has given me many gifts, most of all love, gratitude and perspective – the small things are always the biggest things when everything is stripped away.