It started last Christmas. I spent most of Christmas Day in bed with a stinking cough and cold which I’d had for 3 weeks. By Boxing Day we called 112 as we thought my asthma was kicking off. We eventually made a combined decision that it was probably best to go to A & E at the Royal Berks to check things out. Standard procedure in A & E there is to take a blood sample which they duly did, that was when my diagnosis with chronic myeloid leukaemia was made.
It was a massive shock and in those first few days I went through a lot of emotions;
It was quite lonely for the first couple of months until I attended the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Impact Day and that was when everything turned around for me. Suddenly I wasn’t on my own, I was surrounded by others who were going through the same thing as me, had different leukaemia or were involved in research, fundraising and support for people like me. It was a humbling and overwhelming day and one of the best things to come out of it was connection to the CML facebook group. Now I have instant support and advice which was invaluable when I was going through the initial wave of side effects.
So what now? Nine months on and although it’s a cliché I see the world through different eyes. I try to make the most of every day and not waste them. I’ve set a fundraising target and a timescale and a series of fundraising challenges to complete to raise money for research to provide the same hope and future prospects for all leukaemia patients that CML patients have. I certainly didn’t expect this year, to be running a 10k round Oxford, jumping out of an aeroplane at 12000 feet with the Parachute Regiment or cycling 52 miles round London but I’ve loved every second of it. How strange that all these things were there to do all my life but it takes this for me to see them!
I’ve lost count of the number of people who say how well I look, that’s music to my ears. I still have bad days, I still have days filled with fear and days where I feel rubbish but I refuse to be defined by this illness. I’m Paul who happens to have CML, not that cancer sufferer.
The best thing I’ve ever heard was when my dear friend Claire said to me “I keep forgetting you have cancer” which is exactly how I want it to be!