A woman from Pontllanfraith who suffers from a form of blood cancer has been featured in a report launched in Parliament today, Tuesday, January 8.
Kate Giles, 51, was diagnosed with a slowly-developing and incurable type of lymphoma in 2010 – and her story forms part of the report by blood cancer research charity Bloodwise.
Kate was offered psychological support following her diagnosis, despite the service not being routinely offered by the NHS.
The report features the stories of ten people from across the UK who have been diagnosed with or lost a relative to blood cancer. The report calls on the NHS to ensure access to emotional and psychological support for all blood cancer patients who need it.
Research by the charity shows that eight in ten people with a blood cancer had mental health concerns after their diagnosis, but Bloodwise say few are offered support.
As the cancer hasn’t progressed enough to start treatment, Kate is currently on a ‘watch and wait’ programme, where treatment is delayed until absolutely necessary.
This initially caused a significant mental strain on Kate, who suffered from panic attacks after the diagnosis.
Kate said: “I see a psychologist every six weeks through my hospital’s cancer centre and have done so for eight years. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me. I have a safe environment where I can unload stresses without burdening my family and friends or have them worrying. I am also blessed in that they have the clinical knowledge of my cancer; allowing them to structure the conversation to meet my needs.
“The pressure I am under reduces when I talk to my psychologist. This NHS service has been critical to the fact that I have only had one day off work in the past year. I have been lucky, but so many other people with blood cancer are not so fortunate.”
Gemma Peters, Chief Executive of Bloodwise, said: “One in 19 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer in their lifetime. Although Kate’s experience is unique to her, it and other accounts featured in our report tell the wider story of how people affected by blood cancer are being cared for across the UK.”
Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the third biggest cause of cancer death, killing more people each year in the UK than either breast or prostate cancer.