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Myeloma UK joins campaign putting the spotlight on blood cancers

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Myeloma UK will be joining eight other blood patient groups for the 'Make Blood Cancer Visible' campaign produced by Janssen. Dame Kelly Holmes - who lost her mother Pamela to myeloma last year - is the ambassador for the campaign, raising awareness of the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK.

Myeloma UK news, Patient advocacy news // 4th September 2018

The experiences of myeloma patients and their families will be front and centre in a new nationwide campaign to raise awareness of blood cancers. Myeloma UK is one of nine blood cancer patient groups taking part in the ‘Make Blood Cancer Visible Campaign’ as part of Blood Cancer Awareness Month 2018.

The campaign, which has been produced by Janssen, aims to help educate the public about blood cancer, the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK. There are more than 100 types of blood cancer, with myeloma being the second most common.

The installation is made up of 10 transparent, motion-activated human figures which creatively represent the invisible nature of blood cancer. Over the course of September, the installation will travel to four locations, starting in London on 4 September. It will then move onto Cardiff, Manchester and Edinburgh. The dates and locations are as follows:

  • Westfield Stratford, London 4 – 8 Sept
  • Working Street, Cardiff 10 – 15 Sept
  • Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester 17 – 22 Sept
  • Waverley Mall, Edinburgh 24 – 29 Sept

Each sculpture will feature a short audio clip from some who has been affected by blood cancer. Passers-by can stop and listen to each person’s story, including myeloma patient Carmen Lester, from Surrey.


“At diagnosis, 95% of my marrow was populated with myeloma. The consultant was amazed I even made it to the appointment, never mind driving there and working full time.” Says Carmen, who was diagnosed with the incurable blood cancer in 2014 at the age of 54, “I was put on 3 months of aggressive chemo as I was young and “fit” and by December 2014, the myeloma was down to 3%. Unfortunately, nine months after my stem cell transplant in May 2015, I relapsed. I have had a few different treatments, but I am currently on low dose maintenance tablets to keep the myeloma under control. As of May this year I am in regression.”


Carmen Lester

Carmen LesterCarmen is one of many patients who also support Myeloma UK. In June of this year, as part of Myeloma UK’s 21st Year and Myeloma Awareness Week, Carmen took on the 21 Miles for Myeloma challenge with her brother Rafer, husband Tony and some other family members along the way. They walked from Portland Bill in Dorset to Lulworth Cove and managed to raise over £6,000.

The ambassador for the campaign, double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, has a personal connection to myeloma. Dame Kelly said, “My mother, Pamela, died from myeloma – a type of blood cancer – in August last year. As it’s not well-known, my family and I knew very little about it, and my mother’s symptoms went undetected for years. It’s so important that more people know about the various blood cancers, and of their symptoms, so that those who are suffering can be diagnosed early, and receive the right treatment that could prolong or potentially save their lives.”

Shelagh McKinlay, Head of Patient Advocacy, Myeloma UK said, “Thousands of people will be diagnosed with myeloma this year, but public awareness about this type of blood cancer is still very limited. We are delighted to be supporting this campaign and want to see all governments in the UK make blood cancer a priority in their next cancer plans.”

To find out more about the campaign and listen to patient stories, please visit makebloodcancervisible.co.uk.

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