Support from one of first patients cured by stem cells
A decade ago, Chonette Taylor was given a life expectancy of ten years.
That was before she became one of the first people in the UK to beat leukaemia lymphoma with a stem cell transplant.
Now she has been given the all clear and is baking nearly 500 cakes to help raise the £1,400 needed to kit out Swindon’s Great Western Hospital with 500 thermometers to help monitor patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Mrs Taylor, 67, who has a grown-up son and daughter, ran the arts and crafts shop Quetzal Global Gallery in New Road, Chippenham, for 16 years until 2003.
She gave it up months after she was diagnosed with leukaemia, but still lives above the shop.
After her diagnosis she flew out to her native Brazil to do voluntary permaculture work for three months.
“At the time I was still healthy and I knew if I didn’t do it then, I never would be able to,” she said.
Six years later Mrs Taylor spent several weeks in hospital in London after having the transplant in 2008.
Ever productive, she knitted 35 outfits for premature babies from her hospital bed.
It had only been in 2001 that New Scientist magazine reported the discovery that a particular type of stem cell that could be accepted when transplanted into humans.
After the groundbreaking treatment, the effects of Mrs Taylor’s transplant are carefully monitored with regular six-monthly checks of her blood counts.
She knows that monitoring temperature can be lifesaving for people with compromised immune systems.
Last year, the Haematol-ogy and Oncology United Group (HUG), of which she is a member, provided the Great Western Hospital with 500 thermometers. But the supply has nearly run out.
“The nurses in the oncology and haematology wards were so lovely,” she said.
“When you see how dedicated they are, you really want to support them.
“A small fever on a healthy person can be ignored but, when people with cancers are having treatment, it can become a serious problem in a few hours. That’s why thermometers are important.”
“Normally people do things like a sponsored run or skydive. I cannot do these things,” she said.
“I am terrified of catching a cold being outside in the rain. But I can bake cakes, so I would like to contribute in that way.”
Mrs Taylor arrived from Mexico in the UK at the age of 22, 45 years ago.
She is setting aside 20 afternoons to make 78 lots of six cakes. So far she has raised enough to buy ten thermometers, but needs more orders to supply another 490.
Her cakes cost £3 each and come in five flavours: chocolate chip, banana, apple, lemon and carrot. They are made with yoghurt rather than butter, which makes them light and fluffy and good for freezing.
To place a cake order, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01249) 652496.