Nottingham Hospitals Charity has teamed up with an independent Nottingham-based multiple myeloma charity, The Basil Skyers Myeloma Foundation, to raise awareness of multiple myeloma – an incurable cancer of the blood and bone marrow which causes bone pain and fractures, kidney damage, fatigue and infection.
On average, 13 people a day are diagnosed with myeloma in the UK and more than 300 myeloma patients are treated each year at Nottingham City Hospital’s Centre for Clinical Haematology – one of the largest units of its kind in the country. Although there is no cure for multiple myeloma, chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation can keep the condition under control for many years.
The Basil Skyers Myeloma Foundation, run exclusively by volunteers, was set up in memory of Basil Skyers, a Nottingham-born man diagnosed and treated for the condition in 2008 at Nottingham City Hospital. The Foundation runs and administers an independent grant programme for myeloma patients, spreads awareness of the disease, and provides many forms of practical support for patients. This includes eight self-propelled cushioned wheelchairs for myeloma patients in Nottingham who are being treated at the Centre for Clinical Haematology, and the charity has also made financial contributions to the clinic waiting area.
Nottingham Hospitals Charity provided funding for a research report led by the Basil Skyers Myeloma Foundation entitled ‘Listen Up’. The research examined inequalities across communities in the incidence of myeloma and mortality rates, and explored the reasons why black communities, and in particular men are disproportionately affected by multiple myeloma. The report, launched in 2015 by Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, and Lord Morris of Handsworth (Bill Morris), contains a series of recommendations for tackling these inequalities, and raising awareness about myeloma and which are currently being implemented.
Basil Skyers’ sister Dr Sophia Skyers, who chairs the Foundation said: “Nottingham Hospitals Charity have been very supportive of the Foundation and we are so pleased to be working with them. They have actively demonstrated their support for what we do. This is precisely how voluntary and community organisations should work together and we want to continue in active partnership with Nottingham Hospitals Charity to raise awareness of myeloma in Nottingham.”
Myeloma has been identified as having one of the highest rates of delay in diagnosis – delays mean one in five myeloma patients die within 60 days of diagnosis. However, survival rates are increasing faster than for any other kind of cancer, thanks to more research, new treatments and quicker diagnosis. Survival rates have doubled since the 1970s, with 70% of sufferers living for one year or more after diagnosis and 17% living 10 years or more. These overall statistics do however mask differences in outcome by gender and ethnicity with men, and black people particularly, being more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, and to have a higher mortality rate. We therefore need to be mindful of these differences and the implications for the delivery of services and support.
Nottingham Hospitals Charity Chief Executive Barbara Cathcart said: “It is important to spread the word about myeloma to promote swift diagnosis. We are impressed with the work that The Basil Skyers Myeloma Foundation is doing to support patients and their carers and we are delighted to work with them to raise awareness of this devastating condition.”