A nurse is backing Sheffield Hospitals Charity’s new appeal to fund further research into a crippling form of incurable bone marrow cancer.
Sufferers of myeloma experience bone pain, fractures, fatigue, anaemia, kidney damage, and infections.
Andrea Foster has spoken out for the first time about the pain she sees every day as a result of myeloma to help raise awareness of the charity’s major new appeal to fund further research which has the potential to completely eliminate the disease.
The Clinical Nurse Specialist specialises in myeloma at the Hallamshire Hospital’s haematology department and provides education, support and advice for patients.
Andrea said: “The nature of myeloma means the bone is broken down quicker than it is being repaired. This causes severe back pain, nerve pain and bones that can pathologically fracture and crumble. The treatment for myeloma also has side effects which can cause excruciating nerve damage.
“Myeloma can take a long time to diagnose due to the nature of its symptoms and because it is relatively uncommon. Most people have often never heard of it – they know what cancer is, but not myeloma.
“This type of cancer isn’t curable, but we can still be positive – we can treat it and manage it, initially with medication which is often successful in forcing the cancer into remission.
“But unfortunately it’s a disease of diminishing returns. Remission and treatment gets shorter each time. Some patients can live for many years, but others die within months, often due to an infection as they are immunosuppressed.
“Those living with myeloma know that it will always be there and will always come back. The second time can often be worse than the first. It’s a cycle of disease and relapse, but there is always hope, until it gets to a point when treatment options have been exhausted.
Dr Andrew Chantry, haematology consultant at the Hallamshire, and his team of researchers have been working on the ‘anti-myeloma virus project’, which has the potential to completely eliminate myeloma – finally leading to a cure.
The project has used a genetically engineered virus to target and kill the cancerous myeloma cells without affecting healthy cells. Incredibly, after just two days of being introduced to the virus, myeloma cells were reduced by half and after four days, they had disappeared.
But the team needs £90,000 to continue the research over the next three years, prompting Sheffield Hospitals Charity’s appeal to raise the funds.
n To donate, visit Sheffield Hospital Charity