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Bringing people together in Brighton

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • SAM_0529

When asked why I started the Brighton Leukaemia Support Group, I always feel the need to explain my own story which began almost six years ago.

I was initially diagnosed with CLL in 2011 and later had chemotherapy treatment in 2013. Initially I was placed on watch and wait and this was the hardest part. At this point in your journey, you receive the least support despite this being the time when you probably need it the most. It is more about the technicalities of your condition rather than the psychological side. This is where, in my opinion, a support group can be of most use to a newly diagnosed person, where they can get an insight into how things might not be nearly as bad as they first feared.

There wasn’t a support group in Brighton, however, I received marvellous treatment from Dr Tim Corbett and his wonderful team of doctors and nurses at the Royal Sussex County Hospital. These people also became my friends as my journey continued.

When a friend helps you, you want them to see how their hard work is valued. You also value your own life in greater terms than you did before. After my treatment, I wanted to visit the places that I thought I would never see.

This year, my son was touring the world and I decided to meet up with him at various locations. In December, my wife Teresa and my daughter Olivia met him in New York. In March, I met him in Vietnam and we then moved onto Japan. August saw me meet up with him in Rio. I flew to Manua and then I went up the Amazon staying in lodges along the way and even a hammock in the jungle.

Next year marks my sixtieth birthday and me and my son are planning a month-long trip to the USA where we hope to end up in Deadwood and the Blackhills.

I believe my travels just show how grateful you are to have your life back and how much you want to enjoy it. You also think of others that would now be going through what I had been through. So, what better way to give back than to start a support group?

I was lucky, and with the wonderful support of Leukaemia CARE, I started the Brighton group with a lovely couple, Ian and Jenny. Jenny like me has CLL and was diagnosed seven years ago.

Our group meets once a month and we hope that when we meet a newly diagnosed person that we give them inspiration that they too can go on to lead a wonderful life, and that it is not the end but actually the beginning.

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