Keith’s story - myeloma cancer treatment
Keith Thomas was diagnosed with myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, in 2013. After chemotherapy treatment, he was referred to The Royal Marsden for a stem cell transplant.
“I had been getting severe pins and needles in my feet which had been keeping me awake at night. I was lucky that my GP really looked into this and gave me a few rounds of blood tests.
When I received my results she said, “there is no easy way to tell you this, but you have an incurable cancer”. When I was told the news, it was a surreal moment. The good news was it was treatable, and I was quickly put on a fast track for chemotherapy treatment to prepare for a stem cell transplant, which I had at The Royal Marsden.
Everyone in the NHS has been wonderful throughout my treatment, but at The Royal Marsden they were exceptional. They were so kind and helpful – everything you could wish for. The stem cell collection was done on my birthday and I was lucky to do it in just one visit. I spent six hours on a machine having my stem cells extracted, which was fascinating, and the following week I received the reimplantation.
I have always wondered how these cells, injected back into my bloodstream, manage to rebuild the bone marrow inside my bones. It’s just amazing.
Making positive progress
I needed to stay at The Royal Marsden while my immune system rebuilt. I was warned this could take two to three weeks, but I was able to go back home after just six days and continue my recovery.
Three months later tests showed that my stem cell transplant had been a success. Although the type of cancer I had was classed as incurable but treatable. I was now in remission.
The importance of research
After three and a half years I relapsed and was put on a brand-new drug to treat the cancer. After a further whole year in remission, I found out earlier this year that I have relapsed again.
I don’t know what drugs I will be given this time, but I do know that the amazing research into myeloma is creating new treatment options all the time. As with my last relapse, I have been monitored to determine when and what my treatment will be.
Last year, my wife and I decided to update our Will, using the Free Will Service and left a gift to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. It was a way of saying thank you to the hospital for the fantastic treatment I have received and for saving my life. I also wanted to help The Royal Marsden carry out research in the future, something that is now more important than ever. It felt like the right place and I am proud to have left a gift in my Will to the Charity.