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SURVIVOR – Nigel Phillips (centre) raised funds for the Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) through a coffee morning at the West Hants Club in Bournemouth. Nigel is seen here with members of the club and the DCCF.

5th October 2023

Man hospitalised for five months through Covid is now helping others

A leukaemia sufferer who was struck down with Covid and spent five months in hospital is now fundraising for other Dorset cancer patients.

Nigel Phillips from Bournemouth went into the Royal Bournemouth Hospital for chemotherapy in February 2020. But after testing positive for coronavirus, his condition declined rapidly and he was transferred to intensive care, not expected to survive.

The 70-year-old grandfather said: “I eventually woke up, covered in tubes, not knowing what had happened to me. I learned I had recovered from Covid. But then, because of my chemotherapy-weakened immune system, over the coming months I went on to develop pneumonia and multiple infections.

“I was told the nurses often took it in turns to hold my hand during periods when I was unconscious.

“I’m so lucky to be alive.”

Nigel eventually left Bournemouth hospital five months after he had gone in, deeply grateful for the amazing care of the consultants, doctors and nurses of the NHS.

“When I left I was in a wheelchair and still unable to walk. The doctors and nurses clapped and cheered me out of the ward and I broke down.”

Nigel has Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a group of conditions which causes bone marrow to make faulty blood cells. This developed into Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AMS), a cancer of the white blood cells.

The only way to remove MDS is through a successful bone marrow stem cell donor transplant.

Nigel was entered into the transplant programme and in 2022, he received a transplant at Southampton Hospital. But his trials weren’t over.

He said: “I had been on the Anthony Nolan donor register for three weeks when I heard I had been matched with a 24-year-old German man. It was incredible news.

“I had the transplant, which was a success. But the doctors warned me that I had been through World War One with the cancer and now I was going to go through World War Two following the transplant.

“I have had some terrible infections and long stays in hospital.

“But although my condition still challenges me, I feel I have had an amazing gift, and this, together with the work which went into saving my life here in Dorset, has made me determined to do all I can to help other people.”

He continued: “I have volunteered to test Covid treatments for cancer patients.

“Then, I heard about the work of the Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) through a friend.”

The DCCF gives non-returnable cash grants to a growing number of Dorset people who have cancer and desperately need help to pay for costs including accommodation, bills, and childcare.

Nigel continued: “I was deeply impressed by how this small local charity and its supporters help local people with cancer to make it through often crippling financial struggles.

“I have been a member of the West Hants Club in Roslin Road South for over 20 years and have many friends there, many of whom, like me have experienced or are experiencing cancer.

“So, I approached the club, they gracefully agreed and I hosted one of the DCCF’s monthly fundraising coffee mornings here. With my fellow members’ support raised £478.

“I’m also now planning some events at Parkstone Yacht Club where I am a member.

“It’s deeply satisfying to know that all the money we raise will be going to Dorset families who really need it.”

Eve Went, co-founder of the DCCF said: “Nigel has been through a truly terrible experience and has thankfully come out of the other side. He is inspirational, and we are deeply grateful that he has chosen to support us in helping other Dorset people and their families who are going through their own gruelling cancer journeys.”


For details of how the DCCF can help you, or if you would like to find out how to fundraise for or support the charity, please visit: or email: