Leukaemia patient and Bloodwise blogger Anna Mamwell is celebrating the end of her treatment by taking part in My Peak Challenge in support of the charity.
The 40 year-old has set herself the target of reaching 10,000 views of her blog about life with leukaemia, to raise awareness of the disease and as part of the national fundraising campaign which encourages individuals to choose their own challenge to carry out during May whilst raising money for Bloodwise.
My Peak Challenge was created by Scottish actor and star of hit TV series Outlander, Sam Heughan. Since its began in 2015, it has raised over £200,000 for Bloodwise, the charity Sam has supported for a number of years.
For Anna, My Peak Challenge has given her additional motivation to really shine a spotlight on the ups and downs of her cancer story, and provide support and reassurance to other patients and their loved ones. Reflecting on her diagnosis with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in April 2015, she says:
“I had been feeling ill with flu-like symptoms so booked an appointment with a nurse, who gave me antibiotics and suggested a blood test. Later that evening my GP called to say there was an abnormality in my blood and that I needed to go to hospital immediately. Even at that point I didn’t think it could be cancer.
“When I was admitted they took more bloods, the IV antibiotics started and I was told I had sepsis. The next morning I had a bone marrow biopsy then a couple of hours later the consultant told me I had AML and needed to start chemotherapy immediately. My husband started crying but I was so shocked and numb as I just couldn't take it in.”
Anna's blog is an honest and open account about how day-to-day life has changed for her and her family, and reflects the often hidden impact that blood cancer can have on the 38,000 people diagnosed with the disease each year:
“One of the hardest things about having blood cancer was feeling totally out of my depth as a parent to our daughter. I missed her first dance show as I was in hospital under neutropenic care and I was often too ill to speak with her or comfort her as a mother should.
“I also lost my long blonde hair during the treatment, and found myself with short brown hair. I went to a funeral recently and a few people didn’t recognise me at first, it was such a dramatic image change!”
“As well as sharing cancer's 'other side', this blog is my way of raising awareness of blood cancer symptoms, as early diagnosis is crucial.” she continues.
Andy Jackson, who was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003 and is now Digital Patient Experience Officer at Bloodwise, says: “When you are diagnosed with something like blood cancer you sometimes don’t know where to turn or what to feel. It can all be a little overwhelming and the terminology and procedures being explained to you are scary and often explained in terms that you don’t immediately understand.
“This is where Anna’s blog is so helpful as she describes things in a way that can be understood and comforting to hear, as well as providing a real insight into what it is really like to experience blood cancer as a patient.”
To find out more about My Peak Challenge please visit www.mypeakchallenge.co.uk.