Laura Pickering
Posted by
Laura Pickering

Your stories: Newton McGrath

Laura Pickering
Posted by
Laura Pickering
29 Apr 2015

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.

Watch Newton's video to hear more about his experience with myeloma.

If you've been affected by blood cancer and you'd like more information, visit our Patient Support pages

You can read 'Together We Can', our 2015 supporter newsletter, here.