Olga: my story with Leukaemia Care

Olga shares her essential thrombocythemia (ET) diagnosis story and how, despite their being nearly a 50 year age gap, has found a friend for life in Anna, thanks to the Leukaemia Care Buddy Scheme.

“In 2021 I was diagnosed with Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) – a rare type of blood cancer. My diagnosis came after I had fallen several times resulting in broken bones and hospital stays. Whilst I was in St George’s Hospital, London, abnormalities showed in my bloods leading to my unexpected diagnosis. 

It was when in hospital that I was reading a Leukaemia Care booklet and saw that I could speak to someone through the charity. Not necessarily a member of their Patient Services Team but another patient; someone with the same diagnosis as me, being treated like I was, who would have a shared understanding of what this leukaemia, ET, diagnosis meant to us. This is called the Leukaemia Care ‘Buddy Scheme’. I looked to them for support.

But I didn’t hear for a while, with my ET being a rare type of blood cancer there wasn’t another patient available to buddy up with at the time I joined. And it’s been a big part of my life since I was matched with my buddy. 

However, it was after a routine blood test that Anna received her diagnosis of ET as well. It was suggested to Anna that she join the buddy scheme and pair up with me. There’s an age gap of almost 50 years between us but our relationship really works for us both. We’re very different people but it works, other patients should try it if they haven’t yet. 

With Anna, it’s like having another granddaughter and I very much enjoys our regular conversations, it’s really nice to have her to talk to, she does talk like a whirlwind, but I like it. I miss people, and so I like having Anna.

We speak once a fortnight on a Thursday, on FaceTime, sharing family updates, pictures and we understand what we are dealing with. We approach our leukaemia differently – Anna prefers to know more medically – the blood counts, and levels, but I prefer to not think about mine – if I can’t see it I haven’t got it, and I can’t see my blood. But I’m doing well, and every three months I go for appointments with very nice medical staff, then have my chemotherapy tablets sent to my home. 

We’re very fond of each other, I like to hear about Anna’s life and tell her about my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I lost my beloved husband, at the age of 97 earlier this year – we were married for 71 years – and this will be my first Christmas without him, so I’ll value Anna’s extra comfort at a difficult time. We have met up a few times which has been very special too, to meet in person and share a cup of tea and piece of cake Anna brought to me. 

I really hope more people can use Leukaemia Care’s Buddy Scheme, I really enjoy having another family in my life. I always tell people about Anna and the scheme. With your kind donations more people can use these vital services, so please give today.” 

Olga’s buddy, Anna, commented on the Buddy Scheme

“I wasn’t sure when it was suggested I buddy up with Olga, I realised she’d be quite a bit older than me, but I wanted to get involved with the scheme as I wanted to give back and speak with people with the same condition as me. I was told Olga was lonely, and her husband had dementia, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on first phoning. But she’s amazing, such a fun lady and it’s a really positive part of my life. Our calls full of chit chat and news are great for both of us, it’s a wonderful scheme.”

Support services

If you or a loved one needs advice or support regarding your diagnosis, please get in touch. You can call our free helpline on 08088 010 444 and speak to one of our nurses. Alternatively, you can send a message to our team via WhatsApp on 07500 068 065 (services available Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm).

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