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Join the fight against blood cancer – Swab to be a lifesaver

IN 1989, Andrew Eastmond lost his father to the blood cancer myeloma.

Now, as the creative lead in a new national campaign for the blood cancer charity DKMS, Andrew talks about the importance of blood cancer awareness, especially among black British people.

RAISING AWARENESS: Andrew Eastmond, DKMS Print Manager and Graphic Designer, is the creative lead on a new blood cancer awareness campaign

Originally from Barbados, Andrew’s father Clyde came to the UK in 1965. He worked as a psychiatric nurse for the NHS and dedicated his life to caring for others. In 1989, Clyde lost his five year battle with myeloma. Andrew said:

“After almost 30 years I still miss him. It affected my family’s lives so much. But more than that, I feel for my dad, who was so young and missed out on seeing my brother and I grow into men, and knowing his grandchildren.”

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Andrew’s dad, Clyde, pictured in 1964, age 29

Finding lifesavers

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer. It is the third most common cause of cancer death in the UK. Yet less than half of the UK population are aware of blood cancer issues.

There is no single cure for blood cancers. But, a blood stem cell donation from a genetically similar person can often be the best, and last, option for treatment – a second chance of life.

Only one in three people in need of a donation will find a suitable match within their own family and so they must look elsewhere for a matching donor. That’s why DKMS exists – to find lifesaving blood stem cell donors for anyone in need.

Blood cancer isn’t fair

The chance of being diagnosed with a blood cancer is not the same for everyone. Myeloma, for example, is up to three times more common in black people than white or Asian people. And, because the majority of registered blood stem cell donors in the UK are white northern Europeans, people of other ethnicities may have less chance of surviving blood cancer because it is harder to find a matching donor. Latest figures show the proportion of people of African or African-Caribbean heritage on the national blood stem cell registry is just 2.6%, while white northern Europeans make up 78% of the potentially available donors.

Together against blood cancer

That’s why DKMS has launched its latest campaign – to raise awareness and encourage more people to join the fight and ‘swab to be a lifesaver’.

Andrew said:

“My dad is always remembered fondly on special days such as Fathers’ Day and birthdays but he’s never far from my thoughts. I know how fortunate I was to have a great dad, and I’m grateful for the 12 years that I knew him.

“I take a lot of comfort in the fact that I now work for a charity that helps to save the lives of people with blood cancer. I hope he would be proud of me.

FAMILY: Clyde (centre), age 51, with Andrew (left) and brother Wayne, right, pictured together in the late 1980s

“It was only two years after my father’s death, in 1991 that DKMS was set up with the sole aim of registering blood stem cell donors and because of that there are much better opportunities for someone with a blood cancer. I’d encourage people to register as a blood stem cell donor today, so that everyone has a better chance to fight blood cancer.”

How you can help

If you are aged between 17-55 and in general good health please sign up for a home swab kit by clicking here and go on standby to save the life of someone just like you.


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