by Victoria Johnston 

A young Belleek woman has hosted a stem cell registration event in Enniskillen in aid of Save Our Sunflower.

The Save our Sunflower campaign was launched to help Sharon Whyte McCloskey, a mother of three from Belfast diagnosed with leukaemia who recently received word that she has found a match.

Nessa was inspired to hold the event because "you never know who could need a match, and a match could save the lives of those who need a stem cell transplant and everyone should be on the register".

Sharon’s story hit close to home for 21-year-old Nessa who has just finished her own treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.

She was diagnosed in November 2018 after visiting her GP after experiencing a range of symptoms such as excessive tiredness and bruising. Following blood tests, she was advised to head to Belfast immediately to begin treatment.

Nessa is now in remission and following a tough battle over seven months where she faced numerous setbacks including four bouts of septicaemia and a chest infection that almost ended in intensive care.

She explained that these other illnesses were as a result of how low her immune system was due to the chemotherapy and indeed, one of the biggest risks for leukaemia patients is contamination from other illnesses. She is optimistic for the future.

Her brother recently got married after moving the wedding date back so Nessa could attend in full health. “It was very emotional and a brilliant day".

She looks forward to returning to Ulster University in Jordanstown to complete her Speech and Language Therapy degree. On return to Belfast she hopes to volunteer with charities who assist cancer patients in order “to give back to those who helped me”.

She recently held a successful stem cell event in Enniskillen.

“All it takes is a quick swab of the cheek and a registration form!” Nessa also explained how due to the rarity of stem cells being a match there is only a one in 800 chance you will be called to donate and if you are the donation process takes four to six hours and is an out-patient procedure.