In memory of Sangita
Bharat lost his wife, Sangita, to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in 2015. He tells about the emotional journey he’s been on in the four years since, which has seen him travel the world and raise over £50,000 for blood cancer research
Bharat (right) and his late wife Sangita, who passed away with acute myeloid leukaemia in December 2015
Sangita’s diagnosis and treatment
Sangita was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006. She had chemotherapy for six months and was fine for a number of months. But 18 months later, it returned.
She received her own stem cells, which was initially successful. She even returned to full time employment. However, in January 2015 she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). It evolved into AML a few months later.
Sangita’s medical team in Oxford were amazingly helpful and always positive. They managed to find her a stem cell donor and were as overjoyed as us.
She had the transplant in July 2015. It seemed to have worked, but six weeks after coming home, she had a kidney infection which she couldn’t recover from. In December 2015, Sangita passed away with her family by her side.
Taking the rough with the smooth
I gave up work in 2015 to take care of Sangita and our two sons. We all had a lot of ups and downs during the nine years she was sick.
Our two boys were very young and it traumatic for them to watch their mum being ill over a long period of time. They were also going through crucial times of studying for GCSEs, A-levels and starting university. I learned that you have to be open, honest and transparent everything. Sugarcoating doesn't help.
I found it useful to use things like Facetime and WhatsApp to allow Sangita to connect with friends and family members while she was ill and in treatment. And give them some home comforts, like comfortable bedding and family photos.
Bharat (left) with family friends Sarah (middle) and Dinesh (right) at Blenheim Palace Triathlon
£50,000 (and counting) for blood cancer research
Sangita’s experience with blood cancer has made me want to do whatever I can to help other people in similar positions. The likelihood of finding a stem cell donor is low in the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. To raise awareness, I help Bloodwise and Anthony Nolan to organise drives in gurudwaras, synagogues, mosques and temples.
I’ve also been inspired to fundraise. I did my first bike ride for Bloodwise a year after Sangita’s diagnosis. In the ten years since, I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, walked part of Great Wall of China over the years and cycled from London to Paris. I’ve raised over £50,000 so far.
The events are always very rewarding and emotional. Blenheim Palace Triathlon in 2017 was a particularly memorable great achievement. But my most memorable time was the London to Paris Bike Ride in 2016 when I made 200 new friends over four days!
What drives me is the great satisfaction I get from helping Bloodwise fund lifesaving research. I would encourage anyone to sign up for a fundraising challenge. You’ll be amazed how many new friends you make along the way!
If you've lost a loved one to Bloodwise, you can fundraise in memory to help remember and celebrate your loved one, and help us beat blood cancer.FIND OUT MORE ABOUT GIVING IN MEMORY