A new support group for people living with blood cancer is to launch in Preston next week.
Lymphoma Action will meet on the third Tuesday of every alternate month at Vine House, in Cromwell Road, Preston, from 1pm until 2.30pm.
Its first meeting will be on Tuesday October 16, with the next being on Tuesday, December 18.
The sessions allow people with lymphoma, myeloma, leukaemia or any other blood cancer to share their experiences and gain useful information on lifestyle and services on offer.
Karen Bonell, of Lymphoma Action and group organiser, said: “As well as meeting others with similar experiences, we will have speakers and information.
“The group has the full support of the clinical nurse specialists from the haematology department and they will often be in attendance.
“Come along, we can guarantee a very warm welcome and the kettle will be on. Friends and family are welcome, too.”
One of the founding members is Janet Ross, from Chorley, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma 15 years ago. The 62-year-old says: “Back in 2003 I was diagnosed with a severe case of anaemia. I had a course of treatment, but that had no effect and a bone biopsy was recommended.
“At that time, I was busy with my career, family and social life and had no inkling that anything serious was wrong.
“When the hospital phoned me at work and asked me to go in that day and speak to a consultant, I declined as I was too busy.
“Ten minutes later I realised there must be a good reason for that phone call and arranged to go in.
“It was a huge shock to be told I had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I had never heard of it and my head was spinning with questions, what ifs and fear.
“I couldn’t even find the words to tell anyone else about it in case they got upset. It felt like my future had suddenly been taken away.
“Luckily, some of the first people I did tell had some indirect experiences and steered me towards the Lymphoma Association (now Lymphoma Action) who linked me up to a buddy with a similar type of disease.
“It was the most helpful thing to know that someone else had been through the treatment and survived. I
began to make a plan to help me get through.
“Eventually, I was well enough to go to a national conference of the Lymphoma Action and met other patients from around the country who have remained friends and a key part of my support network.”
Janet is now encouraging others who have a blood cancer to take advantage of the new support group in Preston.
She adds: “I am looking forward to meeting other patients with blood cancers from across Lancashire.
“We can learn a lot just by listening to each other’s stories and there are so many helpful tips that patients can use that they might not find from attending medical appointments.
“You get bombarded with information as a patient and it can be hard to pick out what is useful and relevant to you. On top of that, people who have not experienced illness themselves can weigh you down with their expectations without meaning to and the whole process can be exhausting.
“I can recommend meeting up with others who are on a similar journey. At the least. you will have people who understand your jokes! The meeting is open to all patients with blood cancers and their families and friends.”
For further information or an informal chat call Karen Bonell on 07710 393 891 or check out the Lymphoma Action website http://www.lymphoma-action.org.uk or the closed Facebook support group Lymphoma Action Support North West.