Fundraising News // 17th June 2020
Sir Frank was diagnosed with myeloma, ‘fortuitously’ as he now says, in December 2010 from a blood test for an unrelated issue. Understandably, the diagnosis came as a shock as he was living a busy and active life at the time.
“I was working then as Chief Executive of BG Group plc – quite a full-on role. Because the diagnosis was made at a very early stage, I was asymptomatic and required no immediate intervention aside from close monitoring. By June 2012, things had moved on with my sFLC reaching 1500 mg/l and I was inducted with Velcade and Dex that led-on to my first Autologous Stem Cell Transplant (ASCT) in January 2013. I was still working full time until the end of 2012 and I remained without symptoms.
The ASCT got me though to 2016 when light chains started to accelerate once again and I was inducted in the second half of 2016 with Daratumumab, which was stunningly effective from the very first infusion. I had my second ASCT in April 2017 and have been on Dara maintenance since then, which has held me in a very deep and stable remission. I still have no symptoms and feel very fortunate.”
Sir Frank often reflects on receiving the news that he had myeloma and how it impacted his family:
“It was very scary at first. Hearing that you have an incurable haematological malignancy with possibly a short life expectancy is understandably hard to get your head around. My family were devastated, especially my four children. But looking back on my journey I think about how far things have evolved for many myeloma patients with the advent of new treatment combinations, especially biological therapies that can replace chemo in some cases. I’ve been lucky to be living in this era with the hope that new treatments have given me, and I want to keep working to ensure that all myeloma patients can share that same hope for the future.”
It is this positive outlook on life as well as the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused Sir Frank to act and raise vital funds for Myeloma UK.
“I am a Trustee of Myeloma UK and the COVID-19 crisis has impacted the organisation twice over: a severe diminution of fundraising caused by event cancellations, as well as heightened demand for support services to help patients and families weigh the risks of the pandemic against their treatment and their wellbeing. I wanted to help directly, and I decided to walk 1000 km with the aim of raising £10,000. It took me 59 days to do, and the furthest I walked in one day was 52km, but I’ve managed to raise over £15,000 including Gift Aid and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the total may even get a bit higher before it closes.
I hope that the funds raised will help Myeloma UK continue to support patients and families during the COVID-19 crisis, and fund on-going programmes in patient advocacy such as working to ensure that new and often expensive emerging drugs are accessible through the NHS. It is also crucial that any funds raised continue our mission to provide healthcare professionals with educational materials and accredited training, and invest in encouraging research developments such as genomic profiling to identify high risk patients for priority treatment.”
Sir Frank is keen for more supporters to get involved in fundraising for Myeloma UK:
“Get yourself organised and have a go. You will be surprised at the support there is out there for people suffering from this disease and related conditions who are ready to get behind the work of this brilliant blood cancer charity.”