Earlier this year, KPMG Birmingham raised funds for Cure Leukaemia at their annual dinner. When the cheque was presented to the charity's CEO James McLaughlin a few weeks later a video was shown to the members of staff present to show where the funds raised would go.
Jenna Ostrowski was in the audience that day and found the video very moving at the time. Two weeks later she had been diagnosed with blood cancer ... this is her story.
My name is Jenna Ostrowski. I am a 33-year-old Corporate Solicitor from Moseley, Birmingham. Until it came to a recent holt, life has been pretty fast paced and hectic, although very happy with my amazing partner and ultimate team mate, Matt.
Many of you will be able to relate to my lifestyle, working hard and playing hard, spending my weekends with my loving partner and friends and counting down the days until my next holiday, friend’s wedding or group get-together.
It's always someone else… until it's you.
At 8.30 am on Friday 7 July 2017, I went for blood tests (after a couple of months of experiencing symptoms) and at 8.30 that evening, I was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with Leukaemia, which I now know to be Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. My life and that of Matt and my family and friends has since been turned upside down and away from my lovely Moseley home, I have since been restricted to the confines of the ‘blue room’ at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where I have now been for 25 days at the time of writing and where I will remain for the foreseeable future, dependent on the care of the many brilliant Haemotologist minds and caring nurses and support teams that are looking after me 24/7.
I am no stranger to adversity and have always overcome it in the past, this is no exception. My amazing parents Linda and Tony (who have experienced more than their fair share of tough times) raised me with a “you get knocked down and you pick yourself up again and don’t take any rubbish” kind of attitude and because of them, I am made of very strong stuff. Leukaemia will NOT defeat me. I’m determined to fight this hideous disease and win. Fact. This is NON-NEGOTIABLE. This is by far the hardest challenge I have ever faced, my toughest round in the ring, but I do love a challenge, so screw you Leukaemia!
I am going to make good out of what is otherwise a fundamentally rubbish situation, and use this opportunity to raise as much money as I can for Cure Leukaemia. It’s the very least I can do for a charity which will hopefully help save my life and those of many, many others. And this is where I need your backing and as many of you on board as possible. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the love and support of my friends and family and the generosity of so many people, including acquaintances old and new in respect of the fundraising so far, where well over £1,000 was raised in the first 48 hours of fundraising (rising to over £2,000 at the time of writing) through my 10 year old cousin Olivia (aka, Mini Me) and auntie Laura having their long hair chopped short to raise money. We lost my wonderful uncle Eddie (Olivia’s dad and Laura’s husband) to blood cancer 7 years ago and Olivia and Laura were keen to start fundraising and support me in such a fantastic way. I am truly blessed and thankful for the love support and positive vibes I have and will no doubt continue to receive. ❤
So many of my friends and family are already planning various fundraising initiatives, from the super sporty to the not-so sporty and to those who just like eating cake and want to have a cake sale! There’s something for everyone. Thank you for this and please do get involved. Every single penny counts. And in case you think I’m slacking from my hospital bed why you all run marathons and get stuck in, fear not, I’ve been in touch with my personal trainer already and he’s suggested a London to Paris cycle ride when I’m fit and well again. It’ll no doubt take me a while to get back to fitness after lying in a hospital bed for who knows how long (no pressure Marcus, you’re going to have one heck of a task on your hands!), but watch this space, as soon as I’m well enough, me and my red face will be out there breaking into a mega sweat and doing what I can to raise money for Cure Leukaemia.
And it's not just about fundraising. I’m receiving blood and platelet transfusions on a daily basis and I may still need a bone marrow transplant. Please consider donating blood products. So many people like me rely on blood donations every single day. And if you haven't already, please get yourself on the bone marrow register. If you're under thirty then it's the Anthony Nolan register: HERE and if not, it's the DKMS register: HERE.
Love and huge thanks from a feisty, fighting Jen.
Eye of the Tiger!
Cure Leukaemia's £1m Centre Appeal 2017