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Bev Allen: My Mum’s story

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Bev and Frances

My mother Frances had been living with my husband and I for five years when she went for a regular blood test. This was in 2012 and mum didn’t have any symptoms, but when the doctors received the results, they said her white blood cell count was elevated. Her GP sent for another blood test to establish the reason.

I was at work at the time when the doctor called me and said mum had chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). He told me that he would like to call around at our home to tell her himself. My mother was very worried why the doctor wanted to see her. He sat down with mum and explained that she had leukaemia. She has a funny sense of humour and responded with, ‘Well, goodbye Bev!'

We had heard of leukaemia before, but we didn’t know there were different types. Mum was also unaware of the outcome of the illness at first and thought her life would be soon over. She felt very worried. However, our lovely doctor explained it probably wouldn't be the illness that takes her and that some people survive for many years.

Mum was referred to a consultant and they prescribed 200mg imatinib tablets per day. Mum has been on these for five years. At first, the side effects were sickness and nausea, but she isn't too bad now.

Last year, they decided to drop the dose to 100mg, but blood tests showed her readings were high, so they upped it to 400mg. This made mum feel sick again, but eventually, after six months, the leukaemia was back under control. Mum has problems with creatinine levels, iron, calcium and magnesium deficiency, it becomes a balancing act. She used to be seen every 2-3 months for blood tests, but now has them monthly to monitor her other levels.

My mum will be 93 this year. The care and support she has received from our local doctor and the Churchill Hospital Oxford has been second to none. Our doctor, who calls in to see her, also telephones me to see how she is. The hospital are very supportive and keep on top of her medication and blood tests, and I get emails and calls from the consultant’s assistant asking me if mum is okay and sending envelopes for her blood tests through the post. The Oxfordshire Carer’s have also been great, supporting me with my mum’s care and my own wellbeing.

The hospital are not dismissing her treatment because she is 92. On the contrary, they telephone me to check she is okay and keep us well informed of the results of the monthly blood tests she is having. We hear such negative reports about the NHS, but I can honestly say mum's care has been first class.