Brothers diagnosed with blood disorder preparing for epic fundraising journey to the Arctic Circle
Two brothers, who were diagnosed with the same blood disorder 18 months apart, are preparing for a 5000 mile return journey to the Arctic Circle this weekend, to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and Anthony Nolan.
Paul and Tony Greer decided to embark on their “Arctic Blast” challenge, which starts on Sunday 1 March, after they were diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and also lost their father to the same disease 20 years ago.
MDS are a group of blood disorders where the balance of healthy blood cells in the body is disrupted. Usually in MDS, the bone marrow is over-active and makes far too many blood cells with most of them being defective and not able to do their jobs properly.
Tony was diagnosed in 1995 when a routine blood test indicated a lower than normal haemoglobin level. In 2005, he had pneumonia which seemed to trigger the ‘dormant’ MDS and as a result underwent a number of blood transfusions and treatment for side effects to one of the drugs he was taking, for the next three or four years.
His brother Paul was diagnosed in more unusual circumstances. After suffering with hiccups for a week he visited his doctor who suggested a blood test which revealed his diagnosis. Paul and Tony’s condition is carefully monitored in a process called ‘watch and wait’ where they are given regular check-ups to look for any progress in their illness.
For their challenge, the brothers set themselves a budget of under £1000 to buy a car and will attempt to drive the 5000 mile round trip from London to Nordkapp (Norway), the most northerly point in Europe it's possible to reach by car. They came up with the idea after deciding that instead of a usual holiday, they wanted to do something more meaningful and rewarding which would serve a purpose by raising money for charity.
Tony said: “We are really looking forward to the challenge. I had the idea in September and I’m pleased that we have managed to get sponsors to help cover our costs. The journey is a long one and we tell everyone it is 2500 miles which most people average over two months of normal driving but we need to do it in a week. And then we need to get home again, which is another 2500 miles.
“When deciding who to fundraise for, we wanted to choose two charities that had a personal importance to us. Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and Anthony Nolan offer lifesaving treatment for all those affected by blood cancer. Our journey to the Arctic Circle is a relatively small task compared to what those with blood cancer go through. Hopefully the ‘Arctic Blast’ can raise as much money and awareness of these great causes as possible.”
Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: “We are constantly inspired by the stories of those fundraising for us and the dedication of our supporters like Paul and Tony. Every penny raised helps us in our mission to beat blood cancer, improve the lives of all those affected, and stop people from dying. We wish them both the very best of luck and hope the challenge goes well.”
Laura Watts, Senior Fundraising Manager at Anthony Nolan, said: “The fundraising that Paul and Tony are doing makes such a big difference. It costs £100 to recruit each person to the Anthony Nolan register, so fundraising is a vital part of our lifesaving work. The more fundraising we do, the more potential donors we can recruit onto the bone marrow register, and the more lives we can save.”
To support Paul and Tony visit their Just Giving page and you can follow the challenge via Facebook.