A mum-of-three was thrown into a life or death fight with cancer following a no-warning diagnosis.
Having felt worn out after starting a new job as a chef, Sharon McCloskey went to hospital to get a blood transfusion for ammenia.
Just two days later the 43-year-old she was diagnosed with leukaemia.
Not only would she need to take a course of chemotherapy, Sharon had to undergo a rare stem cell transplant to ensure the cancer did not return, Belfast Live reported .
“It was unbelieveable. One moment life was good and busy, filled with my sons and husband, work and our normal family life,” the Belfast woman said.
The next thing the doctor told me he was 99.9% certain I had leukaemia.
“There were only two days inbetween. I’d no time to get prepared for anything, no time to get used to the idea. I went to hospital thinking all I needed was a blood transfusion for anemia and ended up in the cancer unit for four weeks on chemotherapy.
To be honest, I think I’m still in shock. Like everyone else there’s absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t get cancer, but I’m pretty outraged at it sneaking up on me like that.
“I’m angry and frustrated and I just want to get better and get back to some sort of normality.”
Despite battling through a gruelling course of chemotherapy the procedure took its toll on Sharon.
She added: “I thought I’d done pretty well surviving the chemo. I’d never felt so bad in all my life. I’d never even been in hospital before except when having my babies and here I was fighting for life.
“My first stint was four weeks of chemo, my last was eight weeks and I wasn’t able to have my children to visit because of the risk of infection. I was allowed home for one day to get the plan in order and straight back in to keep up the fight to live.
“Now I’ve been told the type of cancer I have is one that has a higher chance of returning. So my best chance to getting rid of it and seeing my sons grow up is to have a stem cell transplant.”
Because of the rarity of her illness the chance of Sharon finding a match is slim.
She said: “My husband Alan and I have sort of become overnight experts in this horrible disease. But it seems like every time we take two steps forward we end up taking one backwards and it’s exhausting.
When we were told I’d need a stem cell transplant I just assumed it would be pretty straight forward. I’d get my bloods done and get a match.
“But the only simple things about stem cell transplants is the way the donor gets tested and then the donation of the stem cells. It’s getting the match that’s the trick.
“So now I’m sitting here, finally home for hospital for a while, waiting for my sons to come home from school and knowing that I’m relying on absolute strangers to ensure that I can keep doing this.
“My sons are 10, seven and three. I want to see them when they are 11, eight and four. I want to see them grow up, find someone to love, be happy, build their lives.
“And I need a stranger to help that happen for us.”
After Sharon’s brothers were found not to be a match tests began to see whether her friends and family were suitable.
Whether they are found to be a match is yet to be seen.
“I need an angel, a stranger, someone I’ve never met, never spoken to, or perhaps someone I’ve seen passing by on a bus, spoken to in a shop, or even met in an airport,” she said.
“I just need someone to help save my life for my boys, for my husband, for me.
“The Anthony Nolan Trust are getting ready to help us as we ask for people to come forward to get tested for possible donation.
“I cannot deny being really worried. But I’m up for this. I’m up for the fight and I’ll never give up.”
When she was first diagnosed Sharon and her husband Alan broke the news to their boys, Joshua, 10, Matthew, seven and three-year-old Caleb.
When the chemo began her hair started falling out.
In a bid to keep things light for her kids Sharon let her family shave her head, prompting a giggle heavy event.
She said: “It was the most difficult thing to do. I had to get them to understand that having no hair was no big deal.
“I had to try to make it funny for them, a crazy thing to do, a silly thing to do and we did laugh.
“But inside I was a mess. Losing my hair was one of the toughest acknowledgements that I had cancer and needed chemo.
“But we did it. The hair fell to the floor, we giggled and laughed and we swept it up and binned it. I don’t know what others mummies do with their children when they’re facing the terror of life-threatening illness.
“All I could do was make sure my boys were not afraid.”