BENEFITING: The Bone Marrow Foundation, Inc.
ORGANIZER: The Bone Marrow Foundation, Inc.
I want to tell you about my friend Will. (He's the guy on the right, and that's me on the left.) Will has got a great backstory. He’s a big bloke, Will, a rower. Not to be messed with. Anyway, one evening about fifteen years ago, he was watching TV alone in his living room in his house in central London when he heard a window smashing upstairs. So he went up to investigate. What he found was a burglar. Will didn’t do what I would have done, which is to run out of the house for safety to ring the police. Like I say, he’s a big guy. So he confronted the burglar. To cut a long story short, the burglar went for a knife, there was a lot of rolling around on the floor, a lot of punches were thrown, and the burglar ended up in a police hospital. Which is where the story gets interesting.
You’ll get the idea by now that he’s not like a lot of people, Will. So he takes it upon himself to visit this burglar once he is sent to prison. Turns out he’s a career criminal. Will is full of questions. “Why did you break into my house?” “What would have happened if my young daughter had been in the room you broke into?” That sort of thing. He goes back to talk with this burglar again and again. So much so, they become kind of friends. Peter, his name is. And when he gets out, Peter is determined to get on the straight and narrow. To help, Will and Peter set up a charity together – www.why-me.org – which helps get victims of crime to meet the perpetrators if they think it would help heal the wound; restorative justice in the jargon. Which is how I met Will. I was running Champollion, a PR firm, and about ten years ago I did him a favour by helping to promote that charity. So I became mates with Will who, as you can imagine, is quite a character and a lot of fun.
But that’s not really what I want to tell you about. I want to tell you about leukaemia.
Will was diagnosed on the very day of his 60th birthday, last summer. And nobody ever seems to get regular bog-standard leukaemia, do they? They always get some unique version that throws the medical profession into paroxysms of excitement. Well, Will was always going to have some special version, that’s for sure.
So, for many months, every two or three weeks I was going to University College Hospital in London to see Will go through first the dreaded chemotherapy and then in the middle of February a stem cell transplant. And none of that is ever straightforward, either, is it? There’s the panic about whether the National Health Service will stump up to give these expensive operations a try, then there’s the struggle to find a genetic match, then there’s the agonising wait to see if it any of it has even worked. It’s stressful enough for your mates, so heaven only knows how it must feel if it’s actually you, with your life on the line.
Which is a long way round to tell you that’s why I’m running this year’s New York City Marathon for the Bone Marrow Foundation. Even people like Will need a bit of extra support when they’re going through this hell. And while I hope that seeing me every couple of weeks has helped, maybe that’s not enough. Will seems to be on the road to recovery now, so I’m trying to do what I can for all those people Stateside who are going through what old Will’s been through. Your help would be much appreciated.