Me and myeloma: Bridget’s story

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Bridget. I am 60 and I am a retired nurse. My last job was as head of nursing in acute medicine, which was very tough but I loved it. I love gardening, cooking, going to the gym and doing circuit training. I also love travelling and socialising and I’ve got a really good network of friends – which is where I get the bulk of my support.

What is your connection to myeloma?

I have two connections to myeloma. The first is that my wife Louise was diagnosed with myeloma in 2017. The second is that I managed the myeloma unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital about 30 years ago – when myeloma treatments were limited and very different and people were much sicker. Treatments have come along in such a phenomenal way since then.
When Louise was diagnosed, my knowledge of myeloma went back 30 years and horror really struck me because patients were so poorly then. But we realised the drugs have changed and, actually, some of the drugs that Louise was given, like thalidomide, were trial drugs being researched when I was there 30 years ago. Now they’re the standard.

Obviously, for Louise, her transplant was horrific. But from my perspective as a nurse, her transplant was a breeze compared to what it would have been 30 years ago.

I watched people going through agony. It was a very different experience.

What helps you get the support you need?

I paid for private counselling and it’s been my saviour. I also have an amazing group of friends – some who used to work with me at the Marsden, so they really understand what my worries are.

What advice would you give to someone whose loved one has myeloma?

I would recommend talking to someone. Not everybody is fortunate to be able to have therapy because it’s not cheap, but counselling and exercising keep me grounded.

And ask questions. Don’t hold back, even if you think it might sound silly. Sometimes a question might feel silly to you or inappropriate, but you could get a straightforward, simple answer that would really alleviate your anxiety.

Has being gay impacted your experience as a carer and wife in any way, positive or negative?

We’ve had so many scenarios where people made assumptions about who I am and who we are to each other. We went to the hospital with Louise’s dad when he was sick, and everyone thought I was a carer. And, when we were in Malawi with a group of friends who were white British and their children, everyone assumed I was the nanny because I was of colour. So Louise and I spoke about it before we went to the hospital and I remember saying to her that I wanted to make it very clear who I am in every consultation and introducing myself as her wife.

Close-up photograph of a hand holding a mobile phone.

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