Interview 103

Age at interview: 57
Age at diagnosis: 44
Brief Outline: Was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1993 after finding an abdominal lump. He had chemotherapy and interferon, followed by a stem cell transplant for a recurrence. In remission.
Background: Photographer, married with three adult children. Ethnic Background: White British (Scottish).

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He went to his GP with a sore throat and also showed him a lump in his abdomen which he had had for a while assuming it was a hernia, and which had previously caused him some dull pain. He was referred to the hospital for tests that showed he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was given six chemotherapy treatments at monthly intervals. After that he had Interferon three times a week for 2 years, which was injected by himself or his wife.
This reduced the size of the swellings in his abdomen and groin but unfortunately after about two years he was told his lymphoma was returning and he would need a stem cell transplant. Unfortunately the first attempt at harvesting his stem cells was a failure because as a result of a communication breakdown he had not had sufficient growth factor injections. The second attempt was eventually successful after several sessions on the cell separator machine. The transplant itself was preceded by high dose chemotherapy and whole body radiotherapy. He contracted pneumonia during his recovery and continues to suffer with recurrent chest infections, although his lymphoma is in remission.
He managed to work throughout his initial treatment but went off sick for the stem cell transplant. Afterwards he didn't feel he had it in him to continue in the same job and there were difficulties with his employers. So he took up a new profession once he was in remission.
Looking back, he realised that the night sweats he had experienced some years earlier could have been symptoms of his lymphoma although he hadn't known it at the time.



Following a discussion about what he was capable of doing after having lymphoma, he decided to re...

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Following a discussion about what he was capable of doing after having lymphoma, he decided to re...


 I’m involved with the local hospice here and I spoke to a Macmillan nurse who came to this house and we had a couple of hours’ discussion. And I realised I basically wasn’t alone and that I had to decide what I really wanted to do with my life, what I felt capable of doing. 

And that’s really when I decided that I would look at an alternative profession. I’d been an active amateur photographer since I was a boy at school. I was in the Camera Club. And I noticed in a magazine that I bought that there was a course in Wales run for people who were thinking of going into the business of photography. And it was a residential course. So I spoke to my wife and we decided that I should go on that. It was a six-day course. And it was very interesting because the guy who was actually running the course had done very similar things to me. He’d worked for a PLC. So had I. He actually ran his own restaurant in a town in England. And my wife and I ran a hotel for her father. And then he became a photographer. So it was almost a parallel career path. But he didn’t have the illness in between. And he was approaching his retirement and that’s why he was teaching people who were thinking of taking up the business. 
I felt quite fired up about it and decided to invest in the business, thinking initially that I’d be doing some studio work and maybe a few other bits and pieces and still working part-time at the garage. 
And at that point about a year later I suddenly found myself with this new career as my main source of income. I was incredibly fortunate.
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