Sharon Berger received the best present ever for her 62nd birthday — being able to spend it at home with her family.
It was more than she and her husband, her two children and her grandson had dared hope. Only five weeks ago, Mrs Berger received a bone marrow transplant after spending six months in hospital being treated for a life-threatening illness.
She said she was delighted to be back home. “I’m focusing on the challenge of reclaiming a sense of normality in my life, supported by my husband Stephen, who has been a pillar of strength, and my wonderful family, friends and community.”
Mrs Berger fell seriously ill in December last year with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a malfunction of the bone marrow in producing blood cells. She underwent intensive chemotherapy in hospital while waiting for a transplant.
A donor was found following a four-month campaign known by its Twitter hashtag #Spit4Mum, which received support from across the Jewish community. Over 1,000 Jewish people joined the Anthony Nolan Trust’s donor register as a result.
Mrs Berger said: “I am incredibly grateful to the anonymous stem-cell donor who has enabled me to reclaim my life.
Her son Jonni Berger said that coming home had been “excellent medicine” for his mother, adding that “her first taste of chicken soup at Friday-night dinner” had done her a power of good, too.
He said: “We were thrilled to be able to celebrate my mum’s birthday at home as a family.
“It is fantastic to be seeing her strength improve every day. Going through such intense treatment had certainly taken its toll. What this has taught us is to celebrate every possible opportunity.”
Mrs Berger is still receiving treatment but doctors hope the transplant will result in a complete cure.
“Mum has come through some nasty side effects both during the treatment and since her transplant and now her general health is improving,” said Jonni. “It’s a case of so far, so good.”