Happy ending for blood cancer survivor and musician Toby Leeming
PUBLISHED: 15:13 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:14 29 November 2018
A Suffolk musician who is now married and has a daughter after overcoming blood cancer is appealing for young men to join the stem cell register.
Toby Leeming’s life changed in an instant when he became unwell while on tour in America and was later diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
The Long Melford man, who is the founding member and co-writer of a band named Duologue, received a life-saving stem cell transplant and has gone on to marry his girlfriend Libby, who supported him during his treatment, and they have had a baby girl.
Toby has chosen to mark his recovery with a new music project called ‘Future Present’ and the band’s debut single ‘A Near Run Thing’ is being released on Friday, November 30, in a bid to encourage more young men between the ages of 16-30 to sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.
Toby said: “When I wrote the song ‘A Near Run Thing’, it was me remembering how I felt when I was diagnosed.
“It was just that bewilderment and it was something that happens to other people that you hear about, but it didn’t compute when it happened initially.”
He added: “If my donor hadn’t taken the time to sign up to the register I wouldn’t be here. Others aren’t so lucky but the more people we can sign up, the more people can be treated.”
Five years ago he fell ill in New York while on tour and his bandmates were all going home, but he had to go to A&E.
After returning to the UK some 12 weeks later he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
He was treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy but was told that a stem cell transplant was his only hope of survival, but his brother wasn’t a match.
Nine months later the Anthony Nolan charity identified a stranger who was a genetic match and Toby received a successful stem cell transplant at University College Hospital London.
While he was receiving treatment he was supported by Libby, who stayed by side throughout. Shortly after Toby was told he was in remission he proposed to Libby and they were married soon after.
After undergoing IVF due to Toby’s treatment the couple welcomed a daughter, Margot, in August.
During his recovery Toby wrote and recorded the album ‘Radio Therapy’, which reflects upon his coming to terms with his recent illness and emotional journey back to health and echoes his gratitude to his wife.
In the single ‘A Near Run Thing’ his lyrics reveal: ‘And every time that I woke, you were by my side. Well in them I must trust, but on you I can rely, I am the luckiest man alive’.
Rebecca Pritchard, head of register development at Anthony Nolan, said: “Toby’s passion is heart-warming and his experience is powerfully reflected in his music.
“His recovery and personal journey is the happy story we hope everybody who receives a stem cell transplant will one day have.
“We are really happy Toby was able to find a matching donor and is sharing his experience, through music, to raise awareness for need of more people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register – because every day five people will start their search for a matching stranger who might save their life.
“If this single can inspire more young people aged 16-30 to consider joining the register, we will be able to save even more lives.”
Anthony Nolan saves the lives of people with blood cancer by matching them to people willing to donate their blood stem cells for lifesaving transplants.
Find out more about Anthony Nolan here.
To see a film charting Toby’s journey to recovery and listen to the new single see here.