This guest blog is from Ellie Philpotts, a Cardiff Uni Student and staunch Marrow supporter
When you join university, you’re thrown into a new world. Societies are all scrambling to recruit you, usually with the lure of free food; Dominos are handing out pizza in the hopes of getting their local branch on your radar (which probably doesn’t need much persuasion); clubs compete for your attention via the cheapest Jager-Bomb, and lecturers are trying to regain their last threads of sanity reminding students to actually attend classes during those crucial first weeks. But amid this relentless craziness, one society caught my eye – and, sorry to be clichéd, but, also my heart.
Considering this is my guest blog for the amazing Remission Possible, a charity/site set up by blood cancer fighter Emily Clark, you may not be surprised by my revelation that this society was… Marrow!
Most big universities now operate a branch of Marrow, the brainchild of Anthony Nolan, Britain’s main blood cancer charity. Their primary mission is getting the public on the bone marrow register, and Marrow is the side of it that’s both run by, and generally aimed at, students. This means we host recruitment drives at uni, signing eager students (consenting, of course!) onto the bone marrow register, which means taking a simple saliva sample from them. We also arrange events such as our successful Variety Night last month, featuring an array of comedy, dance and live bands, and carolling in Cardiff city centre around Christmas, raising awareness and donations. The Marrow team was the first society I joined when I began at Cardiff University in September 2014, and although I’m also part of many more societies now, they’re definitely my favourites in that they’re the ones I’m most passionate about. So much so, this week I’ve been confirmed to have the role of their Media Coordinator, starting in September. This means I’ll be in charge of our social media, namely Twitter and Facebook updates; Public Relations and Marketing – responsibilities including getting the word out there of Cardiff Marrow, wider Anthony Nolan and actual bone marrow donation; informing of our specific events; and liaising with the public and local/national media to make our amazing cause even more well-known around the ‘Diff and beyond.
So I’ve said about how I completely don’t regret dedicating my rare free time at uni volunteering for Cardiff Marrow. But what actually attracted me into joining? No, their stall at Freshers’ Week was a rare one which didn’t boast free food – simply because they don’t need to rely on things like that. The knowledge that you’re truly helping to save lives kind of beats even the nicest slice of pizza!
In January 2011, when I was 15, I was diagnosed with blood cancer myself – Hodgkins Lymphoma to be precise. I finished chemo and steroids in May 2011, receiving most of this at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Through Teenage Cancer Trust, I’ve met so many incredible people, many of whom have had transplants themselves. People with mine and Emily’s form of cancer, lymphoma, often need bone marrow or stem cell transplants, like Emily herself began this year, and I realised that could’ve easily been the case with my specific illness.
In 2012, a girl in my cancer group, Becky Bishop, who also had Hodgkins, died aged only 16. She’d began the transplant process herself, and greatly inspired me during my recovery. I’d say the combination of my own case; Becky’s situation and seeing so many others struggling to find donors really launched my passion of Anthony Nolan’s work.
I’m really looking forward to starting my Cardiff Marrow committee role and would love to work more with Remission Possible through this. Emily’s venture is an incredible idea and she’s doing amazingly, running this while undergoing the effects of her transplant. Emily, you’re a massive inspiration to me and many others. Keep on Remission Possible-ing and I’ll keep Marrowing 🙂