Sharon Berger Transplant Update

Sharon Berger, who celebrated her 65th birthday only a few weeks ago, has received devastating news when a routine blood test showed that, after three years, her leukemia has returned.

Sharon needs now a new stem cell donor. A suitable donor will most likely be someone with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, so Anthony Nolan is calling for donors from this community:

Read more about Sharon Berger's patient story on Anthony Nolan's website.

Sign up to become a stem cell donor and you could be a lifesaving match for someone with blood cancer.

4th May 2013

Wonderful news - a donor was finally found for Sharon Berger who has been waiting since December for a transplant.
We wish Sharon all the best with the transplant ahead and hope she will recover from it as quickly as possible.

sharon pic2

Her family and Anthony Nolan have done amazing work on getting more people from Jewish origin to register to donate stem cells.

Thanks to all of the people who have participated in raising awareness about this - and especially to those who registered.

Jonni - her son added:
"Very pleased to have reached a major turning point in our #Spit4Mum campaign as a good stem cell match has been identified & Mum is scheduled to have the transplant in a couple of weeks, all being well. Still a long road but a massive thank you to everyone who has helped get us to here, couldn't have done it without you.

We also thank Anthony Nolan and Delete Blood Cancer for their amazing tireless work and support.
And we wish Sharon all the best with the transplant ahead now."

Anthony Nolan posted the news on their website - saying:
"The Bergers’ campaign had a huge impact on the number of people joining the bone marrow register. The campaign has so far attracted 1,191 Jewish people to join Anthony Nolan’s donor register, compared to 107 in the same period in 2012.

‘We are so grateful for every single person who has joined the register as a result of our campaign and all those who have helped in other ways. There are still people who are waiting for a match and we want more people who have been inspired by our story to join the bone marrow register.’

Ann O’Leary, Head of Register Development at Anthony Nolan, says, ‘We are absolutely delighted that Sharon has found a suitable bone marrow donor and we wish her all the best with her transplant. The ‘spit4mum’ campaign has attracted a record number of Jewish people to join Anthony Nolan’s bone marrow register. This will help us to find suitable donors for more blood cancer patients in the future. This is one of the biggest patient appeals we have had and will have a huge impact on the register in terms of the number of potential Jewish donors.’

The Jewish News - Online 2 May 2013-page-001

Further news were published in the Jewish Chronicle - as well as the blog in Jewish mother

As a reminder: There are 2 donor registration charities which the Bergers have been working with and you can contact them to receive a kit in the post which will enable you to join the register, full details regarding eligibility etc on their websites:

If you are under 31, you can #Spit4Mum with Anthony Nolan (

If you are 31-55 you can #Swab4Mum with Delete Blood Cancer (

Her son Jonni also connected with the Waitrose branch of Brent Cross to start one of their Community Matters donation scheme.
More details on our Fundraising page:


Print out the New MDS Patient Handbook

Being diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) can be a shock, particularly when you may never have heard of it.

MDS UK has now produced a brand new MDS patient booklet, created in cooperation with our colleagues from Leukaemia Care and Bloodwise.

It has been written to help you understand more about MDS. It describes what they are, how they are diagnosed and treated and also the expected outcome (prognosis). It also provides information on coping with the emotional impact of an MDS diagnosis.

Whilst the covers are different, the content is the same.
All 3 organisations will work together to ensure this booklet is available in all hospitals.

Learn more about MDS with Our MDS Patient Handbook

Our Patient Handbook, has been written to help you understand more about MDS. Did you find the booklet helpful ? Please let us know by answering this QUESTIONNAIRE

At MDS UK, we felt there was an urgent need to revise and replace the existing information material.
We also wanted to ensure that as many patients as possible would benefit from this in-depth booklet, and hence asked those two great organisations to join us in this project. It is highly necessary and beneficial to all patient groups to work together whenever possible, and save valuable funds that way.

We sincerely thank:
- our colleagues – Leukaemia Care and Bloodwise
- the contributing authors for the different chapters – Dr Sally Killick, Dr Dominic Culligan, Philip Alexander, nurses Janet Hayden and Geke Ong
- our peer reviewer – Prof David Bowen
- the patient reviewers Chris Dugmore and Claudia Richards

If you wish to obtain a copy of the booklet please click here or contact us by email or telephone: or 020 7337558

A stock of booklets will also be available at all of our local group meetings.

Once you've read it, please let us know your thoughts by filling in this short survey

Oxford and Thames Valley Regional Group

Oxford and Thames Valley Local MDS Group

Support, Information, Awareness & Campaigns for those affected by Myelodysplastic Syndromes

This group meets every 3 months on Friday mornings between 10.30 am and 12.30 pm. Led by Advanced Nurse Practitioner Kirsty Crozier and assisted by patients Claudia Richards and Gwyneth Brown-Lowe.
Contact: For more information and dates of meetings, please email

Maggie’s Oxford Centre
Churchill Hospital
Old Road
Oxford, OX3 7LE
Find it in this Map


Come and share your questions and experience

Friends and family members are also invited

What do people say about this local group?

Are you unsure whether to attend the meetings? See what other people are gaining from taking part!


I felt very alone when I first received my diagnosis. The meetings have helped me learn more about MDS and meet others with the same condition but different experiences.


My introduction to the Oxford Support Group was prevaricated. I had seen posters within the Churchill Hospital, had pledged to go, but had then missed the dates. I already attended "Maggies" Oxford and was benefitting from being with other cancer survivors.

Having joined MDS UK I finally met with the Oxford Support Group and was able to be with others who also had been diagnosed with the same condition as myself, albeit with many variations. I had found the illness a somewhat lonely experience and the sharing was a great counterbalance.

Claudia, the group co-ordinator, brought to the meeting news and views from afar, and, at later meetings, Kirsty, the specialist nurse and a mine of information, was able to answer members’ questions in a full and easy to understand manner.

There are exciting plans for the next meeting and, as usual, I am looking forward to it.


I have had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma for 17 Years and in March 2017 I was told by my Haematologist that it had developed into MDS. Although I received a good explanation medically, I was still very unsure about future treatments. I attended the Maggie Centre at the Churchill Hospital in May 2017, and heard about the MDS Patient Support Group. Maggie’s is a lovely building and has a very relaxing, non-clinical feel. On 23 June my wife and I attended the MDS group's bi-monthly meeting. We were able to discuss MDS and its treatment with 12 other patients. Everyone there has a different form of MDS or were at different stages of treatment. It gave my wife and myself great confidence in the future and we gained loads of knowledge.

We also had a presentation by an advanced nurse practitioner, who explained the various blood readings and their implications. This was extremely useful for the future. Our next meeting is on 29 September at the John Radcliffe where latest developments in MDS research will be explained and we will be able to tour the Haematology Lab. We look forward to it and meeting with fellow patients again.


I joined the Group when it was first formed, or shortly afterwards, by one of the Research Nurses working with Prof Vyas. In those days, we met in one of the lecture rooms at the Churchill Hospital. I don't remember very much about the early meetings: I hadn't been diagnosed with MDS very long, but had been referred to the Churchill and was on a clinical trial.

After a time we had to move out of the lecture rooms and start using a portacabin, with an occasional social get-together in a pub! For various reasons, the numbers attending the meetings dwindled and we struggled to remain in existence. But we did, thanks to Claudia, who had taken on the role of co-ordinator. During this time, we could see some building work in progress, which was most intriguing as there was no indication of its purpose. However, it turned out to be a Maggie Centre and this became the new home for our meetings!
At these meetings we are able to talk to each other about MDS and our treatment experiences – as most of us have a different Syndrome - and support one other in a sympathetic way. Maggie’s provides very comfortable meeting rooms and the volunteer staff are all very welcoming, greatly contributing to making our meetings a pleasant and helpful experience.

The group is very much revitalised and membership has increased thanks to Claudia's efforts, and to Kirsty, our very knowledgeable clinical lead and her informative talks. Kirsty is also able to arrange for members of the Churchill's staff to talk to us on subjects of interest. Particularly interesting will be the upcoming visit to the Research Lab.




Kirsty Crozier

If you would be willing to act as a point of contact at your local hospital (for instance, taking in posters/leaflets, being a contact for any MDS patients who have not previously come to the Support Group meetings), please let us know. Gwyneth and Claudia also welcome any suggestions for future meeting topics/speakers and for any other type of event (Coffee Morning, Fundraiser etc.) which you feel the Group should consider.

MDS UK Patients Forum

The messages can be read by anyone as a guest user. If you wish to respond or write a message you will have to register

Exeter Area Patient Group

Bringing all the conditions together, a new general haematology group at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital was set up by Rachel Stewart.

All MDS patients treated at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital are invited to come to the meetings which take place on the first Thursday of every month between 4:30 pm  and 6 pm.

Read More

Essex Patient Group

Essex Local MDS Group

Support, Information, Awareness & Campaigns for those affected by Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Patient Chris Dugmore started this group in Chelmsford.
Meetings take place every 3-4 months and it includes informal talks by local physicians or nurses.
They offer a great opportunity for patient to patient exchange and support.

Meeting on October 25: MDS World Awareness Day!

Meeting on the 17th of April

Chelmsford Museum
Oaklands Park
Moulsham St
Chelmsford CM2 9AQ
Find it in this Map

Contact: Chris on 01702 478244 if you wish to join, meet or contribute to this group

Come and share your questions and experience

Friends and family members are also invited

MDS UK Patients Forum

The messages can be read by anyone as a guest user. If you wish to respond or write a message you will have to register

MDS patients and carers attend parliamentary reception for Cancer52

On 20th April a group of seven MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndromes, a rare blood cancer) patients and carers went to Westminster and attended a parliamentary reception organised by Cancer52, a coalition of more than 80 charities representing rare and less common cancers. The reception was hosted and addressed by Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer (APPGC), John Baron MP.

The purpose of the reception was to raise awareness of these cancers and highlight the need for earlier diagnosis.

Rare and less common cancers together account for more than half of all UK cancer deaths – more than the ‘big four’ (breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer together) – and on average have poorer earlier diagnosis rates.

These seven patients and carers were invited because they are members of MDS UK Patient Support Group, one of the member charities of Cancer52:

Prof Rodney Taylor is Chairman of MDS UK, an MDS patient himself, has experienced a number of MDS treatments (supportive care, transfusions, an MDS specific drug) over the course of 5-6 years. A year ago, when he stopped responding to a life extending drug azacitidine, he had to resort to a stem cell transplant at age 71. His wife and carer, Dr Janet Taylor accompanied him. They met with their MP Dr Tania Mathias.

Reverend Kes Grant, was diagnosed with MDS 16 years ago, at age 35. Following a gradual but serious deterioration of her health and quality of life, she too is now facing the prospect of a stem cell transplant. A treatment she is not looking forward to, as outcomes vary greatly and carry a good deal of uncertainty. Kes recently had to give up her work as a school chaplain, due to MDS, despite trying very hard to still work part-time. This has been devastating for her. Kes attended with her partner and carer Maggie Buckley. They met with their MP Matthew Pennycock.

Leanne Tilbrook, a very young MDS patients (typical age at diagnosis is 71yrs old), needs a transplant soon. She attended with her father Steve Tilbrook – who has been supporting MDS UK for a long time.
Neil Harrap very sadly lost his wife Julie to MDS two years ago, following complications of her stem cell transplant. He has now vowed to help raise awareness of the disease with MDS UK.

MDS UK members and their MP’s were briefed on the number of people diagnosed with rare and less common cancers in their area.

Jane Lyons, CEO of Cancer52, said, “It was fantastic to see so many people affected by rare and less common cancers at the reception raising awareness of these diseases with their MPs. For many the speed of diagnosis is critical as rare and less common cancers are more likely than the common cancers to be diagnosed late, often in A&E, and this has an impact on one year survival rates."

Rodney Taylor said, “It was a pleasure to join Cancer52 at their reception and discuss such an important issue. We need to be doing far better at diagnosing, referring and treating cancers earlier, particularly rare and less common cancers. Access to innovative treatments need to be much improved too.”

Dr Tania Mathias MP said “A privilege to meet patient-expert and constituent Prof Taylor: excellent action points concerning rare cancers.”

Useful links:
For more information about MDS UK please visit
For more information about Cancer52 please visit:

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer is the voice of the cancer community in Parliament, raising cancer at every opportunity, including on the Floor of the House and in meetings with Ministers and others.
The Cancer Strategy (Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020) was published in July 2015

Nurses’ Day – 12 May 2016 – Kes Grant’s Thank You

Nurses Day

Nurses’ Day takes place on 12th of May each year, on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

It’s a chance to celebrate the remarkable difference nursing staff around the world make every day. It’s also a time for patients to thank nursing staff for their dedication and care.

This year we've taken the opportunity to thank all fantastic haematology nurses and CNS's through our Facebook page. Patients also shared their story and say thank you for the support the nurses provide, often in very difficult circumstances, on the Royal College of Nurses website. One of these moving stories was Kes's.

Kes Grants's Thank You


"16 years ago I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called Myelodysplastic Syndrome or MDS. MDS is incredibly debilitating – I live in almost constant pain, and part of the disease causes my joints to swell up and my hair to fall out."

"Despite the challenges I face every day, I still feel inspired to talk about my MDS, to share experiences with newly diagnosed patients and to let them know that life is worth living.

"Part of the reason for this is my Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Geke. She has been a rock from the very beginning.

"Three times a year we visit a patient support group at King’s College Hospital in London. At times we deliver talks together on coping with fatigue and the demands of a fluctuating condition.

"I hope our unique double act encourages others to seek help, and in particular the support of a CNS, because Geke is truly my safety net.

"While MDS affects me every day, I know the nature of the condition makes Geke’s job difficult too. Patients get very poorly and die but Geke still invests her time and energy to make every single person feel special.

"I know there are challenges ahead for me. I’m losing my mobility and with it, my independence, and I’ll need a transplant soon. But no matter what MDS throws at me, I know Geke will be there to reassure me.

"My message to Geke this Nurses’ Day can be summed up in a single quote:

"What we have done for ourselves dies with us.

What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."


You can still share your story and say Thank You to your haematology nurse ‪#‎thankanurse‬ on our Facebook page!

Apply to review Cancer Research UK research centres

Cancer Research UK are recruiting a patient panel to review their research centres and you can apply to be a member.

Cancer Research UK funds 18 experimental cancer medicine centres and gives support to 15 more research centres across the UK. These centres are essential to beating cancer sooner.

All of these centres will apply for five years funding. The applications are going to be reviewed by an expert committee. But they also want people affected by cancer to provide feedback on the centres, so they are creating a Patient Panel.

If you apply to be in the Patient Panel:

  • You will review applications and send your comments
  • You will be attending a Patient Panel meeting in London.
  • You will be discussing and scoring each application together with the other members of the Panel.

Do you have a keen interest in research?
Are you willing to read information to develop your understanding the work of Cancer Research UK and the four UK Health Departments?
If you are please apply to take part in the panel.

To apply please email to request an application form and return it before 17th June 2016

Read the full article here.


Anglia Patient Group – Cambridge

Anglia Local MDS Group - Cambridge

Support, Information, Awareness & Campaigns for those affected by Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Several volunteers run this regional group – and have set themselves up as a committee. All members are MDS patients.

Activities alternate between presentations and general get together opportunities. This group also gets involved in raising MDS awareness regionally.

The main contact is John Heywood.

Cambridge Cancer Help Centre
Scotsdales Garden Centre
Great Shelford CB22 5JT
Find it in this Map


Come and share your questions and experience

Friends and family members are also invited

Very sadly – one of the committee members – Vicki Wall – passed away on the 9th February 2013, after many weeks in hospital – due to a severe infection. As one of the very active Cambridge committee member – we wanted to place a few words on our site to remember Vicki, mark her fantastic contribution to the group and let her fellow members say a few words about her.

Please click here for Vicki Wall tribute – Oct 2013

Update Oct 2013 – we have just learnt that Vicki had made a will – and very generously left £500 to MDS UK.  We are so grateful to her for this – not only for the funds, but also for having the courage to make a formal will.  This is often a difficult topic for all patients and families.

Vicky was a very talented lady and one of her friends – Sheila Walker – donated a lovely quilt she had made, which the Anglia group offered as a prize in a raffle.  Here is the photo of the quilt. Thank you to both Sheila for donating the quilt – and Chris for the raffle.

MDS UK Patients Forum

The messages can be read by anyone as a guest user. If you wish to respond or write a message you will have to register

Understanding Mutations to Treat MDS

The most dramatic development in MDS research over the past few years has been the identification of the gene mutations that cause MDS. These mutations are not inherited, but are acquired in blood stem cells during the lifespan of a person.

Benjamin Ebert is researching these mutations. A major focus of his research is to determine how this genetic information can be used to improve the diagnosis of MDS, and to find the best therapy for each MDS patient.

Lenalidomide, for instance, is a powerful treatment for MDS patients with deletions of Chromosome 5q, a specific genetic mutation.

In the future the research could predict response to azacitidine and decitabine, only available in trials in Europe, and it might help to find out who is best suited for a transplant.

Some of these findings are only preliminary, and Ebert and his team are working to study larger groups of patients to make definitive predictions.

Not a cure but a lot of progress - all of the time, thanks to national and international researchers, and many clinical trials.

Read the full article here:

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