29th August 2014
Michelle was our beautiful cover girl, featured on our 2014 Annual Review, who not only fundraised tirelessly for Leuka, but also encouraged family, friends and fellow patients to do the same. Whether it was organising a Take That tribute concert, or walking 100km from London to Brighton – Michelle put her heart and soul into everything she did for us.
Michelle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in 2009, and over the next two years was treated with ground-breaking drugs that enable many patients to live a normal life by taking a tablet everyday. However, in Michelle’s words: “they just wouldn’t knock it down”.
In April 2011, Michelle developed a more aggressive form of CML and spent the next three months in hospital. There she underwent three rounds of chemotherapy, full body radiation and, later that year, a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. To everyone’s amazement, within just 11 days the transplant had engrafted and, within 4 weeks, Michelle was sent home to continue her recovery.
On 25th May 2013 – almost 2 years post transplant, Michelle took on an incredible challenge and walked 100km from London to Brighton. Writing for our blog she said: “I am now finally in remission and ready to give something back to Leuka, and the hospital that saved my life.” Michelle signed up with her husband Chris, and as more and more friends started to get involved, the ‘Leuka Skywalkers’ was born. Together they raised over £20,000!
Michelle became our cover girl and shared her story to help us raise awareness and vital funds for research. She was proud to say: “I am not a patient. I am not a statistic. I am a survivor. Living proof that miracles do happen.” In May 2014, Michelle and her friend Sue Cooper organised a Take That tribute concert and raised over £6,000. She told us: “I never imagined we would raise so much money, and at an event that people had so much fun at!”
In June this year we were devastated to hear that Michelle had relapsed again. She was admitted to hospital and given chemotherapy to prepare her for a second transplant. Sadly, Michelle contracted an infection and passed away on 22nd July 2014.
Michelle leaves a devoted husband, loving family and many friends. We will always remember her as a truly inspirational and wonderful woman, whom we were very fortunate to have known.
One of Michelle’s dreams was to help Leuka fund research to find a cure for blood cancer and to give something back to the hospital where she had been treated. Her family and friends are continuing to raise funds in her memory – so her dream can live on through those who loved her.
Michelle’s Memorial Page: www.virginmoneygiving.com/ChrisRichards5
Michelle’s legacy has seen almost £37,000* in donations to Leuka. This is from Michelle’s personal fundraising, family and friends fundraising and from donations made in Michelle’s memory. [*This amount was correct at time of writing.]