PETER McCLEAVE will make sure he savours every mouthful of the pancakes his sons make for breakfast this Father’s Day.
He will then have a kickabout in the garden with Seb, six, and nine-year-old Max — all captured on camera by his wife Jenny so they can treasure the memories for ever.
Peter, 41, fears this could be his last Father’s Day as he has incurable cancer and is desperately searching for a stranger who can donate stem cells to buy him more time with his family.
In a heartbreaking interview Peter, who lives in Bunbury, Cheshire, told The Sun on Sunday: “I will never give up. I will keep on going until I find a match because I don’t want my boys to grow up without me.
“I don’t want my wife to find a new partner and them have a new daddy. I am too sick to work now so I am campaigning for people to sign up to the register. Even if I don’t find my donor I might help somebody else find theirs.
“It is heartbreaking on Father’s Day knowing you may not be there for them — that this could be the last one. It makes me angry that it is out of my control. I will give them a huge hug before playing football with them. Even if I don’t feel well, I will do it. I want to create as many happy memories for them as possible.
“I had children because I wanted to be a father. It scares me thinking I won’t be there for them but I try not to waste my days feeling negative or angry. I want my boys to remember the fun times, not me being a sick, sad and grumpy dad.”
Just two years ago, banker Peter was a keen athlete who had just completed the Ironman Wales Triathlon challenge that involved a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and running a marathon.
He recalled: “Two days after the race, I found myself in hospital with pneumonia, sepsis and legionnaires’ disease. Eventually, a CT scan showed I had lesions on my skeleton.”
Tests showed Peter had myeloma, a cancer that develops from cells in the bone marrow, and it was attacking his bones. He said: “When my GP told me, I was in shock. I couldn’t get my head around it.
“I remember asking, ‘Is there any cure? Can I take antibiotics?’ I was told that if I made it through the next seven years I would have done well.”
How you can reigster and try to save a life
REGISTERING to be a donor is easy. People aged between 17 and 55 in general good health are eligible to register as a potential blood stem cell donor.
By completing a short registration form, readers will receive their home swab kit in the post. It takes minutes to do the cheek swabs and return the kit to DKMS.
They will then join the registry and go on standby to save a life.
You can find out more online at: dkms.org.uk
Jenny, a lighting designer, had been at a friend’s house during Peter’s appointment with the doctor. He immediately went to tell her the devastating news. He said: “The next 48 hours were the worst of my life. It felt like my head was under water. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t get it to sink in that this was life-threatening.”
Peter underwent three rounds of chemotherapy at hospitals in Chester and Manchester. He said: “It was intense. My hair stayed intact for the first round but I lost it after the second. Seb and Max thought it was brilliant as I looked like their favourite Newcastle United player, Jonjo Shelvey.”
Peter and Jenny told the boys their dad was unwell but played down the seriousness of his condition. Peter said: “Last summer Max said, ‘Daddy, have you got cancer?’ One of his friends had told him. It shocked us. We had never used that term. We can’t hide it but we don’t want them to be scared.”
Last year Peter underwent an autologous stem cell transplant, whereby some of his stem cells were removed while he received a high dose of chemo. He explained: “I was given a big zap before the stem cells were reinserted so they can regrow in my bone marrow and give me more time.
“Now I am on oral chemotherapy that has put me in remission but that can only be funded for 12 months. It’s not good. Last year I broke my back because my bones are crumbling. I have a three-week cycle of chemo then a week off. Week two is so tough.
“I am tired, my head is all foggy and I need to go to bed for the afternoon. It is tough for Jenny too. She’s been utterly amazing, strong and patient.
“In the early days we would cry but now we try to crack on with it despite everything. At the moment we don’t know if we’ll have to sell the house to buy the drugs. The uncertainty is difficult.”
Peter’s best chance at beating the seven-year life expectancy is to find a donor.
He said: “The myeloma has left my immune system compromised so I now need someone who is a genetic match to donate some of his or her stem cells, which can be transplanted into my blood.
While my myeloma is incurable, the revolutionary treatment will give me a new immune system, which would be completely life-changing — it could give me another ten, maybe 20 years.
“There isn’t a match in my family. We are half Chinese and Portuguese mixed with Irish and English, so finding a donor — a genetic twin, effectively — has become a real challenge, but I am determined to find one.”
Peter wanted to use his diagnosis as a catalyst for good and has teamed up with DKMS, a global non-profit organisation that works to provide matching donors for cancer patients who need a blood stem cell donation.
He said: “In the UK, only two per cent of the population are signed up to donate stem cells. All it takes to sign up is a simple swab from your mouth, then you send it back to DKMS, who put you on the register. If you are a match then it is a bit like giving blood, though you sit in a chair for longer, about four to six hours.
“One day it is hoped stem cells can treat paralysis, dementia, not just cancer. I launched a campaign, 10000donors.com, to get 10,000 people to sign up to the register. We got that number within five months, which is incredible. Now I have set a new target of 100,000. I’d love stem cells to be as readily available as aspirin, because they can do so much.”
While Peter remains positive, he has prepared for the worst by writing letters to his sons to read when they are older. He said: “I hope to find my match. I don’t want to leave my boys. I worry they won’t remember the man I am. I worry that I won’t be able to watch them grow into men.
“I’ve written them letters to read when I am not here with things that I want them to know, such as exams are not the end of the world, make decisions that are best for you and not other people, don’t follow the easy path. I also do a blog so they will always know what I did.
“It will always have memories about me, they will know what kind of man I am if they are too young to remember. I count myself very lucky to have the family I do. I hope I find my lifesaver, so I get a second chance at life and create more incredible memories with them.
“It is a race against time for me but I am used to competing. If I can’t find my match, I hope I can help save the lives of others by raising awareness and making my sons proud in the process.”
Source: Read Full Article