For many patients suffering blood related cancer such as leukaemia, a stem cell transplant is often the only chance of a cure.

Sue Walters was in that very position two years ago after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

“At 72, I felt fit, healthy and not unwell in the slightest. Whilst undergoing a small gynaecological operation in mid 2011, I had some customary blood tests. Doctors initially spotted some abnormalities and advised me to visit my GP for a second opinion. Following this, I visited Dr Mike Potter, Consultant Haematologist at The London Clinic.  Although I was scared, Dr Potter’s professionalism and confidence assured me I was in the right hands.

I was asked to have some more blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy. Devastatingly, Dr Potter made the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). It was so sudden. All I wanted to know was if I was going to die or lose my hair!

Dr Potter recommended we fight the disease with the only possible cure; a stem cell transplant. This gave me a 30 to 40 per cent chance of making a full recovery, as opposed to only chemotherapy that may have prolonged my life, but certainly would not have cured me.

Before the transplant could go ahead, I had to endure three rounds of intense chemotherapy. Dr Potter explained this was to kill as much of the AML as possible and prepare my body to receive a new immune system. During this time, the stem cell collection team was working hard to look for a suitable donor. My sister was tested, but unfortunately was not a match.

Dr Potter explained to me that there is only a one in four chance a sibling will be a match. Due to the number of small families in the UK these days (averaging one sibling), it is often difficult to find a match within someone’s family so unrelated donors have to be used instead. Additionally, with older patients, siblings will also undoubtedly be older and may not be fit and healthy enough to donate.

While I was undergoing chemotherapy, a donor was found who was a 100 per cent match and in November I received a transplant and am now making a textbook recovery.

Following my transplant, I told the nurses at The London Clinic that I would love to meet some of the extremely generous people who were donating their stem cells in the hospital. I was kindly invited to the donor ward and spoke one-on-one with some of the donors. When they saw me, they could not believe I had been ill - I looked so well due to my transplant! Seeing me really helped them understand what a difference they were making. If people like them weren’t selflessly giving, I would not be here today.

I would like to thank my donor who allowed me to have lifesaving treatment, who I still have not yet managed to meet. I would also like to thank The London Clinic for their excellent care, particularly the amazing nursing staff who looked after me and gave me exceptional support in every way. If I had cancer again, I would go to them for treatment without hesitation. People say cancer is a silent killer. It really is, I didn’t feel ill at all.