08.06.2015

Newcastle Cancer Expert awarded “Gold Medal”

A Consultant Haematologist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle has been awarded a prestigious Gold Medal from the British Society of Haematology, in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of clinical care in the specialist field of blood related cancers.

Professor Graham Jackson – who has worked for the Newcastle Hospitals for over 25 years and carries out world-leading research at Newcastle University – specialises in the care and treatment of patients with myeloma.

This award acknowledges his internationally acclaimed clinical expertise and contributions to research which has had a great impact on progressing treatment options for these life-threatening conditions over the years.

Professor Jackson said: “I am delighted to have received this wonderful accolade from the British Society of Haematology, of which I have been a member since 1996. Whilst I realise the Medal has been awarded to myself, I really believe I wouldn’t have achieved this, without the superb team and facilities around me.

I am a part of an exceptionally talented team, who are driven by that “can do” attitude the North East is well known for. Our work is supported by the amazing generosity of the local people who donate all that they can, so that we can carry out the world-leading research Newcastle is renowned for, at the Sir Bobby Robson Clinical Trial Unit in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.”

A past president of the British Society of Haematology, Professor Jackson also holds the position of Honorary Clinical Professor of Clinical Haematology at the Northern Institute of Cancer Research based at Newcastle University, where he has led on a number of major national clinical trials across his career as Chief Investigator, and says that the close links between the Newcastle Hospitals and the University at all levels makes Newcastle a great place to do research, particularly translational or applied research.

Professor Jackson adds: “I worked in other centres across the country before returning to my roots in the North East, and I can truly say that the cancer care we offer here in Newcastle is as good as anywhere else in the world.”

Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chief Executive for the Newcastle Hospitals says: “This prestigious accolade is yet another clear demonstration of the high calibre of clinicians we have working here in Newcastle.

We are extremely proud of Professor Jackson. He has worked with the Trust for many years and embodies all that we endeavour to achieve – putting the patients at the heart of everything we do. This award is very much deserved.”

Pamela Page, who has been a patient under the attentive care of Professor Jackson for over four years now, wholeheartedly agrees with these sentiments. She says: “I was thrilled and delighted to hear the news. I can’t think of anyone more deserving for this award than Professor Jackson.”

Professor Graham Jackson with patient Pamela Page in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care

(Photo credit: ncjmedia)

Pamela, a retired professional ballet dancer who turns 70 in July this year, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in early 2011.

She explains: “It all started the day after Boxing Day in 2010. I was working for Clinique in John Lewis in Newcastle and was simply opening a lipstick when I experienced the most excruciating pain in my chest and upper left arm.

At first I thought I was having a heart attack but the nurse at work checked me over and said I should go home to rest for a couple of days. It didn’t get any better so I went to my local Walk in Centre where, again, I was reassured that my heart was showing no signs of problems.

But I was still in agony days later so visited my GP. She suggested I have an MRI scan to see if we could get to the bottom of the pain.”

Pamela had an MRI scan and was referred to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon at the RVI. After lots of tests and further scans she had a Bone Marrow biospy. The results showed that Pamela had multiple myeloma and she would be referred to the blood cancer specialists in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC). The news was devastating.

Pamela continues: “I’d never heard of the condition before. After doing a little research I found out that it is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is in every single bone in the body other than below the knee and elbows. Effectively this meant I had cancer in virtually every part of my body. It was just awful news to take in.”

Pamela spoke to family and friends. When she told her Godson who is a GP in London, he told her that one of the country’s specialists in her condition was practically on her doorstep in the North East - Professor Graham Jackson.

Pamela rang NCCC immediately and spoke to one of the secretaries who she actually already knew very well.

Pamela says: “I’ve worked in cosmetics for many years and when I moved to the North East a number of years ago I decided to do some voluntary work at the Cancer Centre when it was still at the old General Hospital. I worked for Look Good, Feel Better which is a wonderful scheme to help women affected by cancer feel better about themselves.

The side effects of some cancer treatments can affect patients’ skin and of course many lose their hair. It can have a terrible impact on people who are already having a difficult time coming to terms with their diagnosis and treatment.

The Look Good, Feel Better programmes offers help with skin care, gives the ladies a makeover with lovely cosmetics, and just generally give them time out for themselves. It gives them such a boost and is extremely popular.

Suddenly, here I am. One of those patients I helped to support.”

Pamela was placed into the care of Professor Jackson and immediately started treatment with radiotherapy for lesions which had developed, CTD chemotherapy – the standard treatment for myeloma – and eventually a stem cell transplant.

She says: “When the secretary told me who I would be cared for she said “He’s not just one of the country’s leading specialists for myeloma, he’s genuinely one of the nicest men you will ever meet”, and she was right. He is a gentleman, honest on every level and hugely supportive.

When I first met Professor Jackson he actually said “You are in our hands now” and I immediately felt an overwhelming feeling of trust and confidence in him which is so important when you’ve had a diagnosis like this.”

Being treated at NCCC means Pamela has access to the latest clinical trials.

Pamela adds: “I am currently on the Myeloma XI Trial which I have responded to well, and am currently in remission. This is fantastic, but I honestly don’t think I could have made it without the care and attention I’ve received from Professor Jackson and the rest of the team; the wonderful nurses, Catherine and Susan helped me to cope with my many anxieties – I’m so grateful for all the care they’ve given me.”

ENDS

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Notes to editors:

Multiple myeloma (also known as myelomatosis or myeloma) is a cancer in which there is abnormal growth in the number of plasma cells in the bone-marrow and blood. This can suppress the normal production of blood cells, including those associated with the body's immune system. The plasma cells may collect in the bone to make small tumours known as plasmacytomas. Multiple myeloma is most common in people aged over 60, and is rare before the age of 40.

The Northern Centre for Cancer Care is the largest specialist centre of its kind in the North of England seeing over 1300 patients every year from as far north as Berwick upon Tweed, across to Whitehaven and down to North Yorkshire.  The Award-winning, state of the art building has access to the very latest technology providing a level of care unparalleled anywhere else in the UK.

We see around 60-70 new patients diagnosed with Myeloma every year, and review nearly 3,000 patients during the same period.

The Myeloma Clinic has doubled in size over the last five years, mainly because of the success of new treatments so people are doing so much better on therapy.

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