I found out I had blood cancer almost by accident – it was a huge shock.
In 2007, Newton McGrath was diagnosed with myeloma after he went to the doctor for a blood test as part of a company health check.
My diagnosis came about by accident really. After my initial blood test, I went into hospital for more tests. I was in shock when I found out I had myeloma – I think that happens to lots of people because your life’s turned around so quickly.
It was only when I was put on chemotherapy and I asked if I had cancer that the nurse confirmed I had myeloma.
When I told my family I had blood cancer, they were supportive but a bit distant – they weren’t going to hold my hand. My ex-wife was a big support for me. She found a support group for people diagnosed with myeloma, and I get a lot from these meetings. Having the support group makes me feel less isolated; you can share what you’re going through and everyone knows what you’re talking about.
Within a few months it was clear I needed treatment – the level of cancer in my blood had increased and my back started to be affected. I had to take tablets three days a week to reduce the levels of cancer in my blood so I’d be well enough for my stem cell transplant.
At first I took the drugs at home, but my body didn’t respond well. Instead I took a different drug via a drip in my arm, which meant three trips a week to the hospital, with a few breaks over the year. You get through it – it is tough, but my nurses and consultants were very supportive.
I was then on ‘watch and wait’ – having regular check-ups – for four years. I felt my spirits lifting. I didn’t know how long it would be before I needed more treatment, but I felt like I could get on with my life. I’m now on a clinical trial which is looking at a new treatment for myeloma.
My consultant really encouraged me to take part and I’m glad I did – it’s great to be a part of improving the lives of other blood cancer patients. Being on the trial has made me more confident – I know more about what to expect. I try to carry on as normally as possible – going on holiday and to work, having a social life. I’m feeling a lot better and more hopeful for the future.