“Help my dad beat cancer” – a heartfelt appeal by the son of Weymouth Ironman competitor Peter McCleave has sent his stem cell search global.
Despite battling incurable blood cancer – Myeloma – Mr McCleave took part in the Weymouth Ironman triathlon last September, where the Echo picked up his story after hearing how he was given just seven years to live, unless a stem cell match is found.
And now the triathlete says he is “chuffed” by the public’s response to a letter his son read aloud on TV and radio, calling for people to sign up as potential donors if they match someone in need of stem cells.
Viewers were so moved by brave Maxwell, 8, that the stem cell register website crashed twice after people across the globe showed their support by adding their names to the list.
Mr McCleave praised Maxwell for his TV appearance, but described the experience as “a double edged sword” for them both – as Maxwell is at an age where he’s very much aware of the gravity of the situation.
“On one hand Max was on cloud nine about being on TV – the BBC producers couldn’t have made him feel more special”, Mr McCleave said.
“But as we were heading into the studio, he asked ‘is it really seven years?’
“It’s a fine line – he’s been fantastic, but I just want him to be a kid and not have to deal with this”.
There was more cause for celebration today, however.
Besides exceeding the original target of 10,000 names on the register almost overnight – with 16,896 at the time of publication – Mr McCleave said his latest test results show the level of cancer-causing proteins in his blood have dropped, following a plateau.
“I’m chuffed to bits”, the 41 year-old added, with trademark positivity.
“It’s all good – Max’s letter has been translated into three different languages and people from countries all over the world have been signing up to the website.
“The campaign is working – I was told that my target of 10,000 names was ambitious – now we’re aiming for a million.”
It’s quick and painless to support Peter and others with blood cancer – anyone aged 17-55 and in general good health can go on standby as a potential lifesaver.
To check your eligibility and sign up visit www.dkms.org.uk/with-peter