More Christmases Together – Louise Greenbank’s story

Louise Greenbank, who lives with myeloma, has shared her story as part of our Christmas Appeal this year, to help give patients like her a chance to spend many more Christmases with their families.

Louise was diagnosed with myeloma back in August 2021, two days after her 46th birthday. Little did she know at the time that the pioneering treatment offered to her, DVTD, had only just been made available on the NHS. Thanks to your support, we were able to campaign for this treatment to be made available to myeloma patients.

Louise’s road to diagnosis

As a busy convenience store owner, Louise was no stranger to hard work and long hours. So, when she started feeling more and more exhausted and experiencing nagging pain in her rib in June 2021, she put it down to her hectic schedule, constant heavy lifting, and even suspected she had COVID-19 at one point.

She consulted her GP and was prescribed painkillers. Far from easing up her symptoms got worse. Eventually she had blood tests done, which showed she was anaemic. But her symptoms were put down to the menopause.

At his wit’s end, her husband took her back to the GP, and she was later rushed to A&E. By the time her myeloma was caught she was in kidney failure, had a broken rib and lesions in her hip, pelvis and lower back.

Her children Pearce, Farrah and Morrin were just seven, nine and 13 at the time.

Louise quickly started a course of DVTD. She later received a stem cell transplant followed by another consolidation course of DVTD. She is now on lenalidomide maintenance and has been in remission since April 2022.

“In Scotland we were the first to have DVTD and I was the fifth person at the Beatson to go through the consolidation after the stem cell transplant. At the end of the day, it’s Myeloma UK and the Beatson, and all the staff, all the training and technology that are keeping me alive and giving me a chance to spend more Christmases with my children.”

Looking to the future

“I’m quite a pragmatic, let’s-get-this-done person. I thought, we need to turn this around. I read the myeloma Facebook page and people were saying they’d had it for 10 years and I thought, I can do this. If you’ve got a positive mental attitude, it really stands you in a great stead to tackle the journey that you’re on.”

She added: “I think my three children were a Godsend. I didn’t have time to stop and think about things, I had to be Mum. I have goals in my head of what I want to achieve – and that’s what keeps me going. Goals of where I get to before I relapse. I want to get to my son leaving primary school, which is in two years, and my eldest finishing high school. She wants to do medicine and always has since she was a little girl. My ultimate goal is to see her finish medical school. She’s going to have a prom and I want to see that before I relapse. I’m 50 in two years and I would like to do another big holiday with my children and my husband.

“My attitude now is, don’t put things off, life is for living.”

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Louise is looking forward to making more lasting memories with her children at the family’s favourite time of year: Christmas.

“[One] tradition is the kids get jammies in their Christmas eve box. I take a picture of them every year and I make a calendar up for my mum for the following year for Christmas. I just love looking every year at how much the kids have changed. I know that in a few years I won’t be able to get these pictures, that they’ll be off out with their friends celebrating at the pub or something like that. But just while I can say, ‘Come on I’m your mum, put your jammies on’, I want to do it. When I’m in the hospital having treatment, these pictures are great to look back on. They give you hope.”

Help families have more Christmases together

Thank you so much to Louise for sharing her story.

Speaking of looking to the future, she said: “Myeloma UK are not standing still; they’re always looking for the next thing for people with myeloma. It gives me a lot of hope knowing that when I do relapse there’s going to be a whole host of new drugs and medications. I don’t feel written off.”

If you would like to support our work so that myeloma patients can have more Christmases with their loved ones, please donate today.

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