Patient stories // 2nd June 2022
Patient stories // 2nd June 2022
This Volunteers’ Week we’re turning the spotlight on the patients, carers and family members selflessly giving up their time and toiling away behind the scenes to support and champion the voice of the myeloma community, shape research and improve access to treatment. Here, 69-year-old myeloma patient Dave Green, from Huddersfield, tells us why he chose to put his personal experience at the service of others and signed up to the Peer Buddy scheme.
I had been involved in the previous incarnation of the Peer Buddy scheme a few years ago and I had three or four buddies over a year and a half, but the scheme didn’t have dedicated support and was a bit more ad hoc, nowhere near as structured as this one.
I think what it comes down to is that human beings are pretty good at helping each other.
I had a lot of help when I was first diagnosed. I first encountered medical professionals in all their grades and they were amazing. Friends and family were absolutely supportive but it always felt a bit like I was in the centre of this circle being pointed at. People didn’t know what it felt like. The first time I went to a support group meeting and just had these chats to people about it, they knew what it felt like. There was an immediate connection and, talking to them, it made it all sound much more doable. Hearing someone saying, ‘I felt sick for a few days but you get over it,’ brings you comfort.
It’s not just that they understand, it’s that you know that they understand. It’s the feeling that they’re not just saying the words, they do actually get it in a way that other people don’t. When I heard about the new scheme I decided to do it.
After ten years and four rounds of treatment, I thought, if my experience can be of use to anyone else, it would be foolish not to help other people. And it would be a shame if all this knowledge and, perhaps, bit of wisdom, disappears with me when I go. So why not pass it around? When you’re first diagnosed, all the treatments sound very scary, there is this new language we all have to learn… It seems absolutely natural to help each other.
I’m currently having sessions with two buddies. The scheme is flexible and it fits into my life – I don’t have to fit my life around it. I also feel well supported and if something came out on a phone call or Zoom session that was troubling, I feel like I could talk to Courtney [Amesbury-Cooke, Peer Programme Coordinator] and she would help me come up with solutions. I must say, I’m someone who is sceptical of training but the training for the scheme was very well done. It gave me confidence that the scheme is well run.
I was not looking to get anything out of the scheme. That was not my motivation. But in a way, it’s given some validation to what I’ve gone through in the last ten years. Treatments come with side effects and horribleness and it gives some kind of meaning to it. It gives it some worth if it can be of value to others.
If you feel you have something to offer and would like to help other people, why not give it a go? You’ve got nothing to lose.
The Peer Buddy programme facilitates one-on-one support as a complement to our well-established Support Groups.
Trained Peer Buddies offer up to six sessions of support over a maximum of six weeks either over the phone or on Zoom. Support is available for both patients and their carers/family members, with patients supporting patients and carers/family members supporting carers/family members.
Peers can also choose to support fellow patients or carers/family members on the Myeloma UK Discussion Forum.
To speak to a Peer Buddy please complete a referral form.
Please note that the Peer Buddy service is not a counselling or mental-health service.