This is a charity close to our hearts so we have decided to raise funds for Blood Cancer UK in 2023. Blood cancer is a term that's used to describe many different types of cancer that can affect your blood, bone marrow or lymphatic system. But why have we chosen this charity to fundraise in 2023? Ann Smith has worked at the Bramble Patch for just over 6 years and is well known by so many of our customers. Like many members of staff she started her Bramble Patch journey as a customer and student attending weekly classes. But then we were lucky enough to secure her skills both in patchwork, dressmaking and most importantly organisation & administration and she became a crucial member of the team. But then in 2020 our Bramble Patch team took a blow! Please read our own Bramble Stitcher Ann's story -
“It is what it is!”
"Back in late December 2020 I discovered a lump in my neck which I put down to ‘being run down’, however as it was still there late January several visits to my GP resulted in antibiotics being taken. But it seemed to be getting larger. A niggling panic arose that the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Blood Cancer) – diagnosed back in 2001 and successfully treated with chemotherapy – had returned.
An immediate biopsy resulted in a negative result, but another lump appeared. More antibiotics were issued but again another biopsy and full blood testing was completed. An anxious 8 week wait came to a devastating confirmation that the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had indeed returned. And why had it taken so long to diagnose? Because it’s extremely unusual for it to return, especially after 2o year gap! It was exactly the same strain of cancer but a Stage 4 diagnosis – a totally petrifying prospect that I had known in my heart of hearts but just kept reminding myself that I’d done it before so I could do it again and “It is what it is”!
In September 2021 I started my first round of chemo which had to be a far more aggressive type than before and whilst I knew what to expect, this time I wasn’t truly prepared for regular passing out on Day 8 and ending up in hospital admissions for several days. And whilst this was a gruelling treatment to fight the cancer, I knew that the worst was yet to come.
It had been established as part of my total treatment programme I would need to have a Stem Cell Transplant once the chemo had eliminated the blood cancer and despite this all occurring during Covid restrictions, causing many delays along the way, the transplant team eventually were able to start what was without any question THE very worst part of the journey. I was lucky enough to be able to harvest my own stem cells in advance of the transplant and therefore avoided the trauma of sourcing a suitable donor. In March 2022 after a 5-day heavy dosage chemotherapy striping all existing stem cells from the body, I started a Day Zero Transplant with healthy stem cells being reintroduced into your body via your blood. A full day of transplanting the cells was followed by days & days of sleeping & allowing the body to absorb and build a new stem cell structure. What should have been 3-4 wks of isolation and only a designated doctor & nurse as contact to avoid any contamination, ended up being the loneliest 5 wks. Eventually, the medical team clapped & waved goodbye as I left their ward to finally be reunited with my husband & son to start the recovery process. It has been very slow with many setbacks, and the mere process of having all childhood immunisations and Covid vaccinations has proved challenging and problematic, but finally in Sept 2022 I returned to work on a reduced hours basis to build up gradually. Now I’m back full-time and am getting stronger and back to my old self each day/week that passes. The team at the Bramble Patch have been great throughout, keeping in touch, supporting & backing me up, making me laugh and looking out for me when I returned to work. Returning to ‘routine’ has aided my recovery immensely, the team at Bramble Patch do not realise how much they have done for me, I will be eternally grateful!! But I also am extremely grateful to the support I received from the medical team, Macmillan nurses and especially the Blood cancer UK charity, and that’s why I’m thrilled that the Bramble Patch are supporting this vitally important charity, so they will be able to continue their research and support to anyone facing one of the hardest battles against cancer."
If you would like to support this amazing charity and create a beautiful project whilst making your donation, why not sign up to our Mystery Club Charity Quilt 2023 - Love of Life. The patchwork journey starts at the end of January but it's never too late to join in.