Being diagnosed with cancer came as a shock to Reg Henson, a spritely 81-year-old with a busy life and few aches and pains.
What had seemed a minor problem with his leg in April 2015 – quickly diagnosed as a deep vein thrombosis – led to a number of scans which revealed that he had the most common type of slowly developing leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).
“I was a very healthy and fit person, I didn’t really have any symptoms,” he explained. The fact that his cancer wasn’t progressing fast also meant Reg could take part in a research study testing treatments for CLL, backed by Cancer Research UK.
Reg and his wife Beryl decided very quickly that they wanted to try the RIAltO trial, after discussing it with their family and staff at Salford Royal.
Beryl said: “We felt straight away that we should go for the research because it’s the most up to date treatment. Our children agreed for the same reason. It seemed to be geared for Reg’s case, a low grade cancer in an older person who didn’t need standard chemotherapy or couldn’t cope with it.”
The couple are enthusiastic about their experience of research. Reg added: “You are very closely monitored, the staff are very considerate of you and nothing is too much trouble – I can’t praise them enough.”
He went through eight rounds of treatment in nine months and after the first round, found the side effects weren’t too unpleasant – mainly losing his appetite and some of his hair (which grew back curlier!).
Happily, at the eighth treatment Reg was told his cancer was in remission and he now just needs three-month check-ups.
But he and Beryl continue to have a close relationship with Salford Royal through her role as Deputy Mayoress to this year’s Civic Mayor for Salford, Councillor Karen Garrido.
As part of Councillor Garrido’s charity fundraising during her year in office, she and Beryl are working to set up a family room in the haematology department in Brooke Building at Salford Royal, where relatives of patients can have a quiet, private and comfortable space while their loved ones are having treatment.
They hope to have completed the work by May 2017 and are grateful for all the donations they have been promised – including ongoing support from Worsley Village Community Association, which will provide supplies of tea and coffee for families.