In the first of a series of guest blogs about this month's inaugural Small Change, Big Impact awareness and fundraising initiative, Linda Hurst shares why it's so important to get involved and support LLR in their mission to beat blood cancer.
I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) on 28 June 2010. To say we were all devastated (and I was extremely frightened) is an understatement but from the word go, my family and I had everything explained to us in words we could understand. We were all treated with compassion and respect which inspired confidence.
To be told that you have cancer is a horrendous experience. There is no easy way for a doctor to tell you and there is no easy way to accept it. You just have to let it sink in and deal with it in the best way you can.
Initially, I was the strong one. I comforted my husband who was dreadfully upset and by the time I actually got onto the ward the situation had reversed and I was the one in a state of collapse and it was his turn to be strong for me.
This, in a nutshell, is how we coped with my illness. If I was having a “blue” day, and it is perfectly natural for this to happen, my husband and family would be there to boost me up. In turn, if he was having a down day then I would try and boost him up!
The Haematology Unit (B4) at The University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff is an oasis in what is otherwise a hugely busy hospital. B4 has a serenity to it; it is calming and at no stage was I ever fazed about having to go back in to continue my treatment after a stay at home, simply because I knew I was amongst friends and was going to receive the treatment I badly needed.
The chemotherapy was pretty gruelling but I was given anti-sickness and pain relief as and when I needed it. The staff were so experienced and seemed to know your every need. The care I received was absolutely second to none and I will never forget the kindness and care given to me.
I was told I was in remission at the beginning of September 2010 after 3 courses of chemotherapy. This was certainly a red letter day and one I will never forget but getting there had its very tough moments, some of which were worse than others but with the care and expertise of the doctors and nurses and with an extra-large dose of positive thinking thrown in, I made it and I’m here today, able to write this blog.
Since my remission, I have been part of a trial which involves having bone marrow tests every three months. These have naturally been unpleasant but they have given me peace of mind and more importantly, because I am part of a trial, I feel that it is one small way of me giving something back to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
I am now involved in fundraising for LLR as not only do I want to put something back on a personal level but I feel very strongly about raising its profile. When I approached the fundraising team at the UHW and they asked me if I had heard of LLR, I am totally ashamed to say that I did not know what the initials stood for - how ironical considering I had suffered from leukaemia! This proved to me even more that I needed to get involved and raise its profile. This year I’m involved with “Small Change, Big Impact...Beating Blood Cancers Together”, to help raise the profile of LLR around the UK. Come and join me and make a BIG Impact. You’ll be able to say: “I have helped to beat blood cancer.”
My last bone marrow test will be next November and I will then finally be discharged. I am passionate about getting involved in fundraising as I’m one of the 52% of people who has survived and more research needs to take place before we can get that figure up.
Cancer is not always a death sentence but money needs to be raised so that research can be done to enable a cure to be found for this insidious disease.