A Solihull woman who is suffering from a rare type of cancer says she has been “astonished” by the amount of people who have come forward in the hope of saving her life.
Ulrika Dandekar, aged 21, was recently given the devastating news that she has a rare type of blood cancer called Anaplastic Lymphoma – her only hope is to find a stem cell transplant.
After discovering her own family were not donor matches, Ulrika launched her own global search last week to find a stem cell from elsewhere.
Since her story went public, Ulrika told us this week that she has been inundated with messages from people who have registered to become a possible match.
“I have been astonished by the amount of people who have said they have registered, people who I don’t even know. I have been very overwhelmed,” said Ulrika, who has launched her campaign in time for National Transplant Week (this week).
There is just a one in 125,000 likelihood of Ulrika finding a match because of her Asian background.
“When you are in my position, desperately in need of a donor, and you are told the statistics it’s devastating,” added Ulrika, who dreams of becoming a doctor.
“I have a six per cent chance of surviving. When I found this out I couldn’t stop crying... you start wondering whether you will get better.
“You hear your parents talking about your cancer to friends and how it’s growing faster than the drugs are working.
“I am a 21-year-old who should be studying, working, partying, holidaying and discovering myself. But I’m not. Instead I am struggling, crying, hurting, forever waiting.
“I’ve always wanted to join medical school to become a life saver but here I am instead fighting, every day, to save my own life.
“The longer we leave it the harder my body will find it to recover and fight the cancer.
“We need to find a stem cell donor as soon as possible.”
Ulrika’s nightmare first began in February this year. She found a lump in her armpit and at first thought nothing of it, but decided to get it checked out by her GP. Her symptoms gradually became worse and the lump grew bigger.
Ulrika said: “I went to get the results with my mum. I remember the doctor pulling his chair closer and I immediately thought ‘this isn’t good news’.
“The next few moments went into slow motion. He said ‘you have lymphoma’. All I could think of was I had cancer.”
Ulrika also took part in this year’s Race for Life at Cannon Hill Park, raising over £1,000 for Cancer Research UK. It was the fifth time she had taken on the course but this time, instead of running, she was wheeled around, having just had chemotherapy.
* If you would like to help Ulrika and are aged 16-30 contact Anthony Nolan on 0303 303 0303 or www.anthonynolan.org . Those aged 16-49 can contact the British Bone Marrow Registry on 0300 123 23 23 http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/bonemarrow