On Thursday 18th June, Neil Carpenter will line up in Greenwich, London at the start of 'London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution' facing a 500 kilometre bike journey across 4 days. This however, will be just a small journey compared to what he and his family faced when wife Vanessa was diagnosed with leukaemia almost 15 years ago.
Neil kindly shared his story with us and explained his continued support of Cure Leukaemia...
"My story involves my late wife Vanessa Carpenter, who sadly passed away on the 20th of March 2013 aged 45.
In November 2000, Vanessa was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. She was just 32 years of age and a mother to three small children aged two, four and six.
The prognosis at the time wasn’t good.
Without a Bone Marrow Transplant her life expectancy was just a matter of weeks. She started on a new clinical trial of chemotherapy and her brother Gary, who lived in Australia at the time, took some tests and was deemed to be a suitable match as a donor, he flew over and a transplant went ahead. Unfortunately, after just a few months her body rejected the treatment and the news was not good, the Leukaemia had returned.
The team at Heartlands Hospital were working on a revolutionary stem cell treatment at the time. Therefor a transplant was planned once Vanessa became strong enough to undergo the operation.
Over the coming months and years her body was prone to infections, pneumonia and an overall poor quality of health. The doctors gave her a maximum 5 year life span due to the effects of the Leukaemia and her weakened immune system; she would be on numerous medications for the rest of her life.
Vanessa defied the doctors and passed the 5 year barrier. Even though she was in constant pain and discomfort, she lived as normal a life as possible. Her drive was bringing up her three young children that needed their mother at such a tender age. She spent many more weeks in hospital over the years due to illness or infection, yet she attempted to attend every event in their lives no matter how difficult it was physically and emotionally for her. To them she was a normal mother in every way.
Unfortunately her body was not as strong as her will. She was admitted to hospital on Mother’s Day, in 2013 with breathing difficulties and just ten days later she passed away. Like many who are lost to this terrible disease she is sadly missed and leaves a big void in the many lives she affected.
Last March we held a Charity Ball in her memory, which was brilliantly supported by friends and family, who helped raise almost £18,000 for Cure Leukaemia. The bike ride is going to be a bit tougher I suspect, but I hope my contribution and support for all of those involved with Cure Leukaemia will help in some small way to assist others suffering from, or affected by, this terrible disease."
In October 2014, Neil Carpenter was recognised for his phenomenal fundraising events and awarded ‘Fundraiser of the Year 2014’ at Cure Leukaemia’s annual dinner.
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