Milton Keynes dad raises thousands cycling 80 miles in tribute to his late wife
Bharat lost his wife to Leukaemia five years ago.
Milton Keynes dad, Bharat Miangar, cycled 80 miles in memory of his wife, Sangita, who died five years ago.
Bharat raised £5,000 in the process, which will go to Anthony Nolan, a leukaemia and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation charity.
Sangita died from blood cancer following a stem cell transplant and now Bharat is encouraging more people from minority ethnic backgrounds to join the stem cell register.
It was Acute Myeloid Leukaemia which devastated the Miangar family, Sangita passed away after contracting the disease in December 2015.
To mark her death the 61-year-old dad gathered together a group of 20 riders to participate in his cycling challenge, including his two sons Kiran, 26, and Joel, 21, and the consultant who treated Sangita at Oxford Churchill Hospital.
The fundraising cyclists' route took them from Milton Keynes, around Buckinghamshire and Berkshire before returning back to the family’s home in Milton Keynes.
Bharat said: "Sangita was first diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008. She was treated with chemotherapy and we were so happy when we found out that her treatment had worked and she was cancer free, but she sadly relapsed just a year later."
Following further chemotherapy, doctors decided that Sangita’s best chance of survival would be to have a stem cell transplant. Her siblings weren’t a match for her, so Anthony Nolan searched their stem cell donor register for a stranger who could give Sangita a second chance of life.
Unfortunately, a match could not be found, so following recommendations from her hospital team she had an ‘autologous’ transplant, which involved using her own stem cells rather than donor cells.
Bhurat added: "Following her transplant Sangita was cancer free until December 2014, when blood tests revealed that her cancer had returned yet again. This time she had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, an even more aggressive form of blood cancer. Anthony Nolan found her a donor and her transplant took place in July 2015. The transplant was successful but she sadly died from complications just eleven weeks later.
"It was very difficult to find a donor for Sangita. You ideally want to find a perfect match, a 12/12 match, but a perfect match couldn’t be found. Sangita was from South Asian descent, and I know this would have impacted her chances. However, a less than perfect match was her only option of survival and we were recommended to go ahead with the donor in Germany."
Data provided by Anthony Nolan says only 37% of transplant recipients from minority ethnic backgrounds receive the best stem cell donor match from an unrelated donor.
This is compared to 72% of patients from Caucasian backgrounds. A person’s stem cell match is most likely to come from someone with the same ethnic background as them. Because of this, Anthony Nolan desperately needs more people from ethnic minority backgrounds to join the register.
Bharat raised over £5,000 which is more than double his £2,500 target. The funds he’s raised will support Anthony Nolan’s work to diversify its register.
Speaking about the challenge, Bharat said: "We were genuinely overwhelmed when the fundraising total passed the £5,000 mark, I was so humbled by the generosity of our friends and family who encouraged and supported us.
‘On the ride, we had one person falling and one puncture to take care of but luckily the weather stayed dry and cool and we all made it back home intact, although very tired!’
Professor Parash Vyas, professor and consultant of haematology at the University of Oxford, was Sangita’s consultant during her treatment and joined Bharat to take part in the cycling challenge.
Parash said: "I am just so super supportive of what Bharat is doing. It’s hugely important for all patients to find a donor."
Kirsty Mooney, head of supporter led fundraising at Anthony Nolan, said, "We are delighted that Bharat and his team of 20 riders took on this incredible cycling challenge. The funds they raised will enable us to carry out vital research and recruit potential stem cell donors to the Anthony Nolan register – any one of whom could give a second chance of life to someone with blood cancer."