An Aberdeenshire man who was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2013 has spoken out about his condition in an effort to save the lives of others.
Though blood cancer being the fifth most common cancer in the UK, the charity Bloodwise has found half the public cannot name a single symptom.
And the charity is concerned this means some people won’t see a doctor to have blood cancer ruled out as the cause of their ill health.
In an effort to address that, Dr Dick Morris from Methlick is supporting Blood Cancer Awareness Month this September.
Dr Morris said he wanted to share his cancer story in a bid to ensure others know the symptoms “before it is too late”.
The 75-year-old said: “I had heard of leukaemia through work my wife did in the 1960s, but was still surprised when, after a visit to the doctor about an odd attack of vertigo and vomiting, I was told that I had different and rare blood cancer called Essential Thrombocythemia (ET).
“This was obviously quite concerning for my family and I but, fortunately, ET can be controlled in many people by daily chemotherapy.”
Throughout treatment, Dr Morris has been fortunate to avoid severe pain, but has warned that not everyone has the same experience.
He added: “The chemotherapy can have quite bad side effects, but I’ve been one of the lucky ones and have been able to live a pretty much normal life since diagnosis.
“Hearing of the far worse experiences of others with this or other blood cancers makes me keen to support Bloodwise in raising awareness of these diseases, to ensure others also get the earliest possible diagnosis and effective treatment.”
Common symptoms of blood cancer can range from unexplained bruising, bleeding or bruise-like discolouration of the skin to drenching night sweats and breathlessness.
Sarah Porch, head of information and support at Bloodwise, said: “Around 3,300 people in the UK will be diagnosed with a blood cancer this September, but public awareness is worryingly low.
“People with blood cancer often say that their symptoms were ‘vague’ and could be downplayed or explained away.
“If symptoms are unusual for you and don’t go away, you should make an appointment with your GP.
“In the majority of cases it won’t be anything to worry about, but it is important to rule out blood cancer as the cause.”
To find out more about blood cancer and to read Bloodwise’s free symptoms guide, visit Bloodwise.org.uk.