Newry Blood Cancer survivor fronts new awareness campaign

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info@newrytimes.com
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Community, News
Elaine Murray and daughter JessicaElaine Murray is one of the faces of local charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI’s new blood cancer awareness campaign, Empty Chairs. Elaine, who is from Newry, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in March 2013 when she was 53 years old. Elaine joins eight other blood cancer survivors to front the campaign, which will also tell the stories of three people who didn’t survive blood cancer. These people are represented by a series of poignant empty chairs.
  You would have to search far and wide to find someone friendlier than Elaine. Born and raised in Newry, Elaine is a retired Nurse who enjoys nothing more than spending time with the apple of her eye, grown-up daughter Jessica.
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Go For It March 2017But in March 2013, Elaine’s life was turned upside down. After collapsing at home one day, she was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital, via casualty. It was there that a diagnosis was confirmed – Elaine had blood cancer and to say she was terrified would be an understatement.
  Bearing in mind she had spent her entire career nursing people, Elaine had far more knowledge and insight than the average newly-diagnosed patient. Nursing in the 70s and 80s, she witnessed the ravaging effects of blood cancer on a daily basis, when survival rates were much lower than today. When doctors told her she needed a ‘mud’ bone marrow transplant (a transplant from an unrelated donor), she was convinced that was her death sentence.
  Elaine told Newry Times, “When the doctor said I needed a transplant I just looked at her and said, ‘Are you joking? You want me to sign my own death warrant?’ In my day, if you had a mud transplant you wouldn’t survive. Nobody did. If we sent patients to London, they came back home to die, if they were lucky. That’s the way I saw it because that’s all I knew.” Elaine desperately struggled to understand how research had advanced blood cancer treatment and even when doctors assured her that that this wasn’t a death sentence, she couldn’t believe them.
  In January 2014, Elaine went ahead with the procedure in St. James’ Hospital Dublin, convinced she would never see her home again. But six months later, after a gruelling battle, she did. And she admits now that her perception of blood cancer was wrong, and rooted in the past. Elaine continued, “Back then, blood cancer was a death sentence. Now, it’s different. I had to readjust my thinking and see that there is life after blood cancer. All of the research performed has got us to where we are today. But so much more needs to be done – it needs the funding and the support.”
  Now, Elaine is preparing for daughter Jessica’s wedding in June, an event she thought she would not be around for. She can’t wait for what the future will hold but takes each day as it comes. Remission is possible for people like Elaine thanks to research done by scientists, like those funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI in Belfast. They are working hard to develop new and more effective treatments, which mean that a diagnosis is not a death sentence anymore.
  Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI is the only local charity entirely dedicated to researching treatments and a cure for blood cancers. And they still need your help. The charity will be hosting a number of fundraising events over the coming months, including their annual Derry Walk on April 1st and SlieveDonard Moonlit Trek on June 3rd.
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March 10th 2017For more information, or to sign up, please visit www.leukaemiaandlymphomani.org.

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