St Albans mum with leukaemia to be honoured at charity awards
PUBLISHED: 12:57 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:57 22 November 2019
A St Albans mum with leukaemia has been shortlisted for an award for her work campaigning for more stem cell donors from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
Meena Kumari-Sharma, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2018, has been shortlisted for the BAME advocate of the year award at the Anthony Nolan Supporter Awards.
Since her diagnosis, Meena, who is 42 and the mother of twins, has campaigned to raise awareness of the need for more stem cell donors from ethnic minorities, while also searching for her own life-saving match.
Meena was told she would need a stem cell transplant to survive. Although a matching donor was initially found in Korea, this fell through and the search began again.
After deciding to take matters into their own hands, Meena and her family set up Match4Meena in October last year, to help find a donor for herself and for others in the same situation.
Meena said: "The campaign was born out of pure desperation. All I kept thinking was 'I haven't had enough time with my children'.
"It was such a private matter, and to be so public with it was difficult - but I didn't expect the response it has had.
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"The outlook seemed so bleak, but once we started the campaign I met so many good people and it created hope that we could find somebody."
The campaign has now registered 5,000 people to the international stem cell register.
"I felt, if I don't make it, there will have been a worthwhile reason," Meena said. "If I could find someone else a match it would have been worth it all.
"I don't want anyone to suffer like I had to."
Meena's acute myeloid leukaemia has now downgraded to chronic myeloid leukaemia, which is stable, and she is working to rebuild her strength before undergoing further treatment.
Anthony Nolan chief executive Henny Braund said: "Meena has truly gone above and beyond to raise awareness of the need for more people on the stem-cell register, while herself receiving treatment.
"We want to extend a huge congratulations to Meena and look forward to celebrating with her at the awards."
The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 28 at the Tower of London.