The girlfriend of a local man who is seriously ill with a very rare form of blood cancer is appealing for potential stem cell donors to come forward to help save his life.
Twenty-seven year old Ed Fox, who went to school in the Alford area was diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus driven lymphoma and hemophagocytosis just days after moving to Belgium last May to be with his girlfriend Katrien, who he describes as the love of his life.
Since May, Ed has been undergoing heavy chemotherapy to hold back the illness whilst he waits for a suitable donor, which is proving difficult.
As well as being by Ed’s side during this heart breaking time Katrien has been raising awareness via the internet, the local media in Belgium, and has set up a page on Facebook: “Red Ed-Word Stamceldonor” in this desperate plea to save her boyfriend’s life.
Momentum is being gathered with people like Derren Brown, Ross Kemp and The Good Men Project all supporting Ed’s cause and helping raise awareness, however we are not out of the woods yet.
Katrien said: “The chance of a match is 1 in 50,000, but without the help of a stem cell donor the love of my life is going to die.
“That is why I hope as many people as possible will register. It doesn’t take more than donating some blood and if it doesn’t help my Ed, it might help some other unfortunate soul”.
Ed, spent his early years in Lincolnshire where he attended Withern Primary School and later the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School before moving on to The University of Birmingham.
Ed moved to Gent, Belgium last year to be with Katrien who he met whilst traveling in Europe. It was in the months before moving that Ed developed the virus, which in only the very rarest of cases causes cancer.
In almost all cases the Epstein-Barr virus causes Glandular Fever. Ed said: “However, with me it caused an aggressive form of cancer and on top of that I have a rare complication from which 50 percent of the patients die within a year”.
In the months before moving, Ed suffered from a fever followed by a swollen gland in his armpit. He thought that he had fully recovered when the high temperature and the pain in the armpit gradually went away, but he was mistaken. Katrien continues: “In England he took antibiotics for the swollen gland, but a blood test showed he had a very low count of white blood cells.
“Once he arrived in Gent, he was immediately taken into the university hospital. He left his life in England to be with me, now I will do everything I can to save his life.”
Ed’s friends in the UK are also doing all they can to raise awareness and help find a donor.
One of Ed’s closest friends Alex Walker said: “We used to talk about our hopes for the future and what we really wanted to do with our lives. I recall those conversations fondly.
“The best friends make you believe you can do anything; Ed has always made me feel that way. Ed will always stand up and be counted for what he believes in. He has never been afraid to believe what may be against the grain.”
Despite dealing with the hardest thing he’s ever dealt with in his life, Ed continues to look on the bright side.
Ed said: “Chemo wasn’t that bad, I’ve had worse hangovers. Sometimes I have tough days, but I know that I can count on my girlfriend, family and friends.Katrien and I haven’t been together for that long, so what she is doing for me now is undescribable.”
If you are in good health and under 55-years-old you can help Ed by registering as a stem cell donor with the Anthony Nolan Trust at www.anthonynolan.org. Alternatively, you can sign up at the Delete Blood Cancer Trust at www.deletebloodcancer.org.uk.
They will send you a free do-it-yourself swab/spit-it, which will be used to analyse your DNA and test for a match. You can also join his online campaign www.facebook.com/edneedsyou