A mother-of-four hit with the realities of supporting her husband through blood cancer has spoken of how it is important to stay positive and take each day at a time.
Katrina Hampson, of Thornton, was preparing to take on the Great North Run at the beginning of last month with her husband Andy, when he was given the shocking news that he had acute myeloid leukaemia.
Determined to carry out her fund-raising challenge on her own, she took part in the event, in aid of Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s campaign to fund an acute cancer triage unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The 41-year-old said: “Andy didn’t show any symptoms. We thought he had high blood pressure so he was prescribed tablets. He had been feeling a bit rubbish since he started taking them, so he went back to the doctor.
“The nurse took a blood test and sent those results to Blackpool Victoria. The day after, the hospital rang Andy and told him to get there straight away. We didn’t know what was in front of us. He had more tests and a bone marrow biopsy and we were told he had acute myeloid leukaemia four weeks ago. It totally turned our world upside down. We have four sons, aged nine to 16, and we were not expecting this, especially as Andy didn’t have any symptoms.”
Andy, who is manager of HSBC, Blackpool, has now been put on a trial drug and endured 10 days of chemotherapy. He is currently staying in Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where he will be for the next three weeks.
Katrina added: “Chemotherapy has stopped now, but Andy is very poorly. We are waiting to see what happens over the next couple of weeks. He has not been given a prognosis. Doctors are trying to treat it, but it is a very serious blood cancer. If he had not had his blood tested when he did, he would not have had a lot of time left.
“He is on a really aggressive drug to give him the best chance of killing the white blood cells. He has to stay at Blackpool Victoria because he is at risk of infection. The next few weeks are critical.”
Katrina also explained how she manages to work full time, look after four sons, volunteer and visit Andy.
She said: “I get the boys ready for school, go to work as manager of the Furness Building Society in Poulton and then see Andy.
“I am also head of finance at Doula UK, a voluntary organisation that supports pregnant and new mums, so I am used to juggling things. You just have to be positive and take each day at a time.”
Katrina added she is lucky Andy is staying at Blackpool Victoria, rather than the Rosemere Cancer Centre at Royal Preston Hospital.
She now believes even more strongly in fund-raising, which she and Andy had started after their friend Mark Dean was treated for tonsil cancer in 2017.
She said: “Now this has happened, it makes it more apparent how we need an acute cancer triage unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
“Luckily, there is a leukaemia unit in Blackpool, so I am able to work, look after my children and see Andy. I would have had to stop work if Andy had to stay at Royal Preston Hospital.
“So this fund-raising is important to me. Andy had done the Great North Run for years but this was my first one, so it was a huge achievement for me, especially after Andy had to drop out following his diagnosis.”
Through sponsorship, match funding and support from their employees, the couple, raised £3,168 for the acute cancer triage unit campaign and Katrina’s solo run added further £2,500.
Rosemere Cancer Foundation now has £83,000, with a hope its £100,000 target will be reached by the end of this month.
Work could then start on the conversion in November, aiming to open by the beginning of next year.