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Blood cancer support group provides lifeline for patients

13 Sep 2016 16:58:04

Patients dealing with a range of blood cancers who helped establish Rotherham’s first Haematology Support Group would like to extend their support to others.

Specialist Haematology Nurses at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust (TRFT) joined forces with patients, their carers, families and Macmillan Cancer Support earlier this year to develop ideas for the group, which now meets monthly at Rotherham Hospital.

During National Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September, members hope to encourage more people - whether they are currently undergoing treatment or are in remission – to come along to the group to support others, get information to help manage their conditions well and to share their experiences.

Louise Ollivant, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Haematology at TRFT, said: “Earlier this year we worked with Macmillan to host an open evening to ask our existing patients diagnosed with blood cancers what kind of support they wanted the Trust to offer them.

“It was fantastic to hear so many good ideas and empowering to see patients, their families and carers feel so passionate about helping and supporting each other’s through challenging times in their lives.

“The group has a small but dedicated membership and has gone from strength to strength. We hope that National Blood Cancer Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to tell people the group is here for them too.”

The Haematology Clinic at Rotherham Hospital treats patients with blood diseases. These range from anaemia to complex leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes. Patients are often seen regularly seen for blood product transfusions, chemotherapy, and bone marrow tests. .

Jim Martin, 71, of Brecks, Rotherham, attends the support group with his wife Pat. He was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) 10 months ago. MDS syndromes are a group of diseases in which the production of blood cells by the bone marrow is faulty. It is a type of cancer and is sometimes referred to as bone marrow failure.

Jim said: “I had a bone marrow biopsy which showed that some cells were turning into leukaemia so I started chemotherapy in November 2015. I thought doctors had got me mixed up with someone else when I was diagnosed because I felt fit and healthy, although a little tired at the end of the day after working in a busy bakery in Kiveton.

“The group has been a massive support for me and Pat. When I was first diagnosed I didn’t want to talk about it but the group showed me it’s good to talk. I’ve talked to people about the treatment I’ve had, which has helped us both.

“Although there isn’t anyone in the group who has exactly the same diagnosis as me, it helps to know that I’m not the only one going through it. It’s also good to have people at the group who are in remission because it gives me hope that will be me one day too.

“I’d really like to see more people come along because the more people with different blood related conditions, the more experiences we can share and support we can offer. It’s a friendly, welcoming and informal group with people’s partners and families coming along too.”

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 29 September from 6pm to 8pm in the A6 waiting area. For more information about the group, contact Madeline Ward, Louise Ollivant or Rachel Goodgrove on 01709 426532.


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