Dad and daughter received the same devastating diagnosis three years apart

Myeloma Awareness Week campaign highlights disease

Neil Pearce, 77, complained of ongoing backache and fatigue to his GP who, at first, thought the Cornish man was suffering from muscle stiffness and arthritis.

It turned out that Neil had incurable blood cancer, known as myeloma, which affects more than 24,000 people in the UK.

Unbeknown to him at the time, his daughter Hannah, was going to follow in his footsteps.

“I started getting pain and discomfort in my sternum in October 2019,” Hannah recalled.

“If I think back, the pain came and went but there were times when I couldn’t go to bed. I had to sleep upright in a chair.

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“On occasions, it was too painful to even hug my daughter, Tege.”

Initially misdiagnosed with costochondritis – inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone – Hannah got the correct diagnosis of myeloma blood cancer in 2020.

Only 46 at the time, her diagnosis shattered the risk profile for myeloma, which usually occurs in people over the age of 65.

Leading charity Myeloma UK said: “Myeloma is an incurable blood cancer that occurs in the bone marrow.

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“Despite being the third most common type of blood cancer, myeloma is especially difficult to detect.”

This is because myeloma can lead to symptoms often linked to general ageing or minor conditions.

Symptoms of myeloma can include:

  • Pain
  • Easily broken bones
  • Fatigue
  • Recurring infections.

Myeloma UK noted a third of myeloma patients needed to visit their GP at least three times before getting an accurate diagnosis.

Hannah said: “We all know our bodies and it is vital to follow your instincts.

“I had to keep questioning for my diagnosis and thank goodness I didn’t take no for an answer.”

Hannah is plagued with questions of “what ifs”, she said.

“My dad and I both had to wait to get a diagnosis and you can’t help but wonder ‘What if?’

“What if we had both had an earlier diagnosis; would it have changed the outcome or the amount of years we will have with our families?”

While Hannah has responded well to treatment that put her into remission, Neil hasn’t been so lucky.

In the past five years, his cancerous symptoms have returned three times, and he is currently in his last round of chemotherapy.

Once that is completed, Neil will have exhausted all treatment avenues available to him.

To help raise awareness about the disease, Hannah is supporting Myeloma UK for Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

Hannah said: “If you feel there is something wrong, please get it checked.”

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