‘I’ve become best friends with the woman who saved my life’ – Telegraph.co.uk

By daniellenierenberg

When Nicky Turkoz (aboveleft) was diagnosed with leukaemia, her only hope was an anonymous stem-cell donation. That donor was Annette Hamson (above right) and the two, once strangers, now share an unbreakable bond

I was wrestling the Christmas decorations down from the loft when I got the call. I can remember hearing the landline ring and telling my daughter, Meltem, who was steadying the ladder, to leave it. They can call back if its urgent, I said. My mobile rang and we left that too, but the landline went again. I better get it, Mum, said Meltem. Someone clearly wants to talk to you. She answered it as I was hauling the last of the decorations down. Its the surgery, she said, passing the phone to me.

That morning Id had a blood test. Id been feeling strange for months and had finally made an appointment to see the GP. I told her I was feeling lethargic and depressed, which was very unlike me, but Id put it down to ageing and a spot of empty-nest syndrome, as my youngest daughter Zeynep had just left home to work abroad. Odd things, such as a recurring gum infection, were making me wonder if something else was going on. My GP seemed unconcerned but sent me for blood tests anyway. A few hours later she was telling me to pack an overnight bag and get to hospital. Your results show youre very anaemic, she said. Theyll need to do some more tests. You might be there a while.

She never used the word cancer. Looking back, I think she knew then but was sugar- coating it for me. We left the decorations.

Three hours later, after more prodding and poking, a consultant told me I had acute myeloid leukaemia, a blood cancer. It seems unbelievable now but I can remember thinking, Well, thank goodness theyve found something wrong with me, I knew I wasnt feeling great. I had no idea, of course, what was coming down the track.

It was a Wednesday evening and I was told they would start my chemotherapy on the Friday, but Id need to stay in hospital in the meantime. So while I was being installed on a ward, my poor daughter was handed a leaflet about myeloid leukaemia and drove home to our undecorated tree.

The first round of chemo lasted 10 days, which meant I had to miss Meltems 23rd birthday on 21 December. Zeynep left Gran Canaria, where she had just started working as a holiday rep, and flew home to be with us. It has always been just the three of us, ever since they were tiny. Im a very can-do sort of person and have always just got on with life whatever it has thrown at us. I couldnt bear it when my girls suddenly had to look after me. It all just seemed so unfair. I suppose everyone feels like that though.

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'I've become best friends with the woman who saved my life' - Telegraph.co.uk

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