‘Should have gone to Specsavers’….it’s a good job father-of-two Daniel Sockett did indeed visit the well-known opticians for an eye test as it led to the diagnosis of a rare form of blood cancer.
And now, the Sales Operation Analyst with EDF Energy is aiming to “give something back” by running the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run for Cure Leukaemia – just over a year to the day since his diagnosis with Hairy Cell Leukaemia (HCL).
Thankfully Daniel, from Torquay, was told in April that he is in remission, and he has now set about getting himself fit and healthy to “give something back” by raising funds for Cure Leukaemia.
“It was on October 12th last year that my life changed, when I was diagnosed with a rare chronic leukaemia called Hairy Cell,” he says.
“I had been feeling a bit under the weather for a few weeks, getting breathless for no reason, bruising easily, sweating at night and suffering from a dull ache in my abdomen.
“Then I woke up one morning and the sight in my right eye was slightly blurred, and I couldn’t concentrate at work so went to see my GP.
“He recommended going to Specsavers to have an eye check, which rang alarm bells, and it turned out I had bleeding behind both eyes.
“That led to an urgent eye appointment at the hospital and a blood test, followed not long after by a bone marrow biopsy.
“It was on that afternoon of October 12th, whilst having the first of many transfusions for blood and platelets, that the consultant asked to see my wife Debbie and myself, and we were taken to the ‘quiet room’.
“My worst fears were confirmed with the news I desperately didn’t want to hear…I had cancer.
“My world came crashing in. Was I going to die? What about my daughters? Is my life insurance any good? What will chemotherapy be like?
“The consultant started to talk but I couldn’t focus.
“I did hear that I had a rare leukaemia and that the positive was that initial treatment was usually successful, and I soon started to feel hopeful I could beat this.”
However, things were to get worse before they got better.
After the first of a series of injections building up to chemotherapy Daniel had a high fever and spent a week in hospital.
The chemotherapy prompted feelings of nausea and loss of appetite, while a course of antibiotics also aggravated Daniel’s liver leading to a skin rash and jaundice.
“I really felt like I would never feel normal again,” he recalls.
Gradually however, his condition did improve as his bloods started to recover.
It was last month, following another bone marrow biopsy, that he was given “the best news possible” – he was in complete remission.
“Hairy cell leukaemia is one of the rarest types of leukaemia, cancer of the white blood cells, largely found in men aged between 40 and 60,” adds Daniel, who has two daughters, Isabel, aged 9, and Madeleine, 6.
“At the moment it is treatable but not curable, although the treatment is good and they are making advances all the time.
“Back in the 1970s, life expectancy was only four years after diagnosis, but now you can pretty much get back to leading a normal life.
“Being diagnosed with such a serious disease does give you a bit of a kick mentally, and you end up fearing the worst and constantly trying to read the consultants’ body language.
“And the likelihood is that it may well return at some stage, although I am committed to staying fit and healthy and life feels good at the moment.
“Now is my time to put a bit back and say thanks to all the people who have helped me through the good times and the bad times, and help try and find a cure for this awful disease.
“I used to do half marathons and play football but am now very out of shape, so this is a chance for me to improve my fitness and raise some money for Cure Leukaemia at the same time.
“It is such a co-incidence that the Birmingham event is going to be so close to a year on from my diagnosis.
“I have run the Birmingham half marathon before, so knew roughly when it was in the year, and hopefully I will be able to show just how much I have moved on since last October.”
Click HERE to visit Daniel’s fundraising site and make a donation.
How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives