Blood Run: Rhiannon’s Cause

RNC Principal Mark Fisher, Maisy and RNC staff Donna Gavin-Robinson and Jo Meredith are all standing, smiling in front of a white NHS blood donation van, with the logo of two big red hearts behind them.

“Cancer can strike at any time, and to anyone, I was very lucky to recover fully from a brain tumour, thanks to receiving a series of blood and platelet transfusions throughout my 23 month chemotherapy course. Sadly my beautiful friend, Rhiannon, was not so lucky and passed away in November 2015. You can help to ensure fewer people meet such a devastating fate – all that is needed is your kindness to give blood.” Says Maisy McAdam, a second year student at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind). The 18 year old, who lives in, Cornwall counts herself as one of the lucky ones and you can read Maisy’s story of life after chemo but this story is not about her, it’s about Rhiannon.

 

Rhiannon stands in a group with her favourite boy band, The Wanted. Tom has his arm around Rhiannon, who is wearing a t-shirt featuring The Wanted.

Rhiannon, when she met her favourite band The Wanted.
Left to right – Nathan Sykes, Jay, Tom, Rhiannon, Max and Siva.

Maisy recalls “I met Rhiannon three years ago, I was mid-way through my chemo and she had just started. We met with our social worker in a café, we both ordered cheesy chips so had something in common right away; we just hit it off. She was a massive fan of The Wanted, she had planned to see them live but she wasn’t well enough to go. Her mum arranged for them to come and meet her and she was so happy – she was even in the Plymouth Herald!”

After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Cancer, Rhiannon went for a stem cell transplant but the treatment wasn’t successful and she died in November 2015 at the age of 17. That week Nathan Sykes from Rhiannon’s favourite band, The Wanted, appeared on the X Factor, sending this tweet before the live show; “Tonight’s performance is dedicated to Rhi #OverAndOverAgain”

 

Maisy and Rhiannon are both smiling as they sit on horses on a carousel.

Maisy with Rhiannon in Plymouth, this is the last time they saw each other.

Maisy explains why she set up Rhiannon’s Cause “After Rhiannon’s funeral I set up a charity in her name because  I wanted to keep her memory alive, to remember what a loving and thoughtful girl she was and an incredible friend.” Maisy was able to tie this in with her academic studies at RNC “I started my AS Level Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and initially I was going to organise a fundraiser for young cancer patients, but kind of realised that asking students for money wouldn’t get me very far! When Rhiannon died I knew that I wanted to do something for her. During her chemo, Rhiannon received over blood and platelet transfusions which prolonged and bettered her quality of life. I wanted to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation.”

 

Not everyone is able to donate, as Maisy explains “I can’t donate blood because I’ve had blood transfusions before. A lot of my friends at RNC have incredibly complex medical conditions, and are on various medications so are not able to donate.  When the day of the blood run came, Maisy was so nervous “I was so stressed out on the day; I wanted everyone to turn up, I wanted everyone to be ok and more than anything I didn’t want to let Rhiannon down.” RNC Principal Mark Fisher, who was able to donate on the day, said “I wanted to give blood today to support Maisy. Blood donation is something which contributes to the community and gives something that the NHS are in desperate need of. I had not given blood in a while and Maisy’s project reminded me that I needed to donate again and has reinforced that I need to make time to do it regularly.”

 

Maisy sits beside Lorren during the donation as Lorren lies back on the seat with the needle in her arm.

Maisy with Lorren, who says she will donate blood again.

Reflecting on the day, Maisy said “Three members of staff were current donors and I managed to recruit one new student – I was so pleased that Lorren could donate and that she was ok. Initially I was frustrated that I only got one new donor but that’s one new donor who says she will donate again and I hope that sharing Rhiannon’s story will raise awareness and encourage more people to donate.” After her first successful donation Lorren said “My auntie died from cancer in February so I thought it was the least I could do.”

 

Maisy’s final message to you is “If you know anyone that has ever been affected by cancer then you will understand that doing this one thing can make such a difference. I was one of the lucky ones – with the help of chemo and several blood transfusions I fully recovered and have been cancer free for nearly 20 months.”

 

Visit www.blood.co.uk today to book your appointment and help change people’s lives!

 

If you want to find out more about the work we do at RNC, please call us on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC