BRAVE cancer victim Ulrika ‘Riya’ Dandekar, who tragically lost her brave battle with Lymphoma on New Year’s Eve, has been posthumously handed a prestigious award for her campaign to get more people on the stem cell donor register.
The inspirational 21-year-old was diagnosed with Anaplastic Lymphoma, a rare blood cancer, in March and spent every day fighting the disease and searching for a stem cell donor after treatments didn’t work.
While searching for her own donor the kind-hearted woman also launched a campaign calling on everyone to donate stem cells to help others with similar diseases.
She even launched a fresh appeal from her bed in the Marie Curie Hospice days before she died, urging people to give a bone marrow donor or donate through a mouth or spit swab.
Her hard-work to get people signing up and donating led to Riya being put forward for a special Influential Woman of the Year Award – which she deservedly won, becoming the first ever person to win one of the award’s posthumously.
Her father Uday accepted the prestigious award on her behalf at the ceremony which celebrates the achievements of women in business and in the community.
The former Alderbrook School pupil was told she had been nominated for the Venus award last year and she was hopeful to make it to the ceremony – a hope she never realised.
The judge’s decision had been made by the time of her death, but organisers were so inspired by her story
that they decided to go with the judges decision and for the first time ever gave an award posthumously.
Her mother, Dr Ursula Bahalkar, said: “Riya’s legacy, we hope, will have been to raise awareness of how simple, quick and painless it is to register on-line as a stem cell donor and potentially save a life.
“I want everyone out there to register in Riya’s memory – it is a New Year resolution everyone can keep.”
The inspirational Solihull student was first given the devastating Anaplastic Lymphoma diagnosis after discovering a lump in her armpit last February.
The odds of finding a match were always stacked against her with just a one in 125,000 chance because of the lack of Asian donors.
But anyone could have been a match for the aspiring doctor, who touched hearts across the country with her campaign.
Just seven months after her diagnosis, Riya was told that now her cancer was incurable and she was referred to hospice care to allow her to live her final weeks in comfort.
Anyone aged between 16-30 can give Riya her wish – and potentially save someone’s life – by joining the Anthony Nolan register at www.anthonynolan.org