Empty Chairs – John McCormick

Currently, thanks to advances in research and treatments, three out of every four people diagnosed with blood cancer in Northern Ireland survive. John McCormick from Derry~Londonderry is one of those people.

John, 66, has been happily married to wife Elizabeth, a retired GP, for 41 years. Together they have two grown-up sons and four beautiful grandchildren.

John’s ailments began on Christmas Day, 2011. He recalls suffering from an excruciating sore knee with rigors and a very high temperature, leading him to be admitted to Altnagelvin hospital. He was diagnosed with Septicaemia—a form of blood poisoning. Further tests showed that there were some abnormal cells in his blood which needed monitoring.

He found his immunity had been affected, and he was relying on antibiotics to keep him healthy. Not content to live on these, John researched Clean Air Technology, which he subsequently had installed into his home. He found the technology so beneficial that he now wears a portable unit around his neck to reduce the risk of further infection.

In 2014, after two years of being reviewed at the haematology clinic, John was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. He began intensive chemotherapy treatments in February 2015 and then in November 2015 he underwent a stem cell bone marrow transplant, which propelled him into remission.

Looking back on his blood cancer experience, John stresses the importance of taking someone with you to every hospital appointment. “As a patient, you don’t hear what you are being told,” he said, “Taking someone with you is invaluable.” John is also so grateful to all the medical teams in Altnagelvin and the City hospitals. He can’t help but smile when recalling the phenomenal hospital staff he has had contact with over the years. “They must have all been to charm school!” he said.

Finally, there is one thing that helps John, a born-again Christian, throughout his blood cancer experience – the power of prayer.

Research done by scientists, like those funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma right here in Belfast, continues to work towards developing new and more effective treatments for blood cancer. They mean that people like John can survive blood cancer.

We’d love it if you shared John’s story and spread the word. Together, we can help reduce the number of empty chairs created by blood cancer.


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