Blood cancer makes me live life to the full

New ap­peal launched

The Galloway News - - INTIMATIONS - Stephen Tem­lett

When Kirkcud­bright man Ash­ley Medicks was di­ag­nosed with blood cancer at the age of 17 he was de­ter­mined that it wouldn’t stop him.

Now at the age of 63, he’s con­tin­u­ing to live a full and in­ter­est­ing life and is rais­ing aware­ness of the dis­ease fol­low­ing the un­veil­ing of an in­stal­la­tion in Lon­don this week.

He was in­vited by Janssen On­col­ogy, which has part­nered with nine char­i­ties to cre­ate the “Make Blood Cancer Vis­i­ble” cam­paign, to the event in Pater­nos­ter Square.

There are 104 sculp­tures, made to the height of each in­di­vid­ual and spelling their name, through­out the square and telling the story of the in­di­vid­ual.

Ash­ley, who has cu­ta­neous T cell lym­phoma which af­fects his skin, said: “There are 104 peo­ple who are told every day in the UK they have a form of blood cancer hence the num­ber of names in the square.

“Peo­ple who are di­ag­nosed are af­fected in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways. It can make peo­ple feel stig­ma­tised, marginalised and iso­lated.

“When I was told at the age of 17 I had an in­cur­able cancer I picked my­self up off the floor and said I would try and put as much into my life as I could. It’s a cancer for the im­mune sys­tem so you have to look after yourself and I’ve done a lot to mit­i­gate against it.

“It is a blood cancer but it re­ally af­fects my skin badly and I know peo­ple can feel self-con­scious about it.”

In 1994 Ash­ley made a doc­u­men­tary about those is­sues of alien­ation called Scratch­ing the Sur­face and dur­ing his re­search he found there was no der­ma­tol­ogy helpline in the UK so he set one up.

In 1995 he founded Skin­ship UK which still pro­vides sup­port for skin dis­ease suf­fer­ers to­day.

He added: “I’m classed as stage 2B which means I can de­velop tu­mours at any time which fo­cuses the mind won­der­fully on liv­ing life to the fullest.

“Me and my wife Jackie drove thou­sands of miles for years around Africa, I’ve had an in­ter­est­ing busi­ness ca­reer and I’ve been run­ning the Gen­eral Der­ma­tol­ogy Helpline.

“The is­sue is some peo­ple don’t have the same amaz­ing sup­port that I’ve had. Thank­fully there are char­i­ties like the Lym­phoma As­so­ci­a­tion which do great work.

“Hope­fully all of this can high­light the sup­port that there is out there for peo­ple and open eyes to what blood cancer suf­fer­ers can go through.”

Mak­ing his mark Ash­ley Medicks at his sculp­ture in Pater­nos­ter Square in Lon­don

Cam­paigner Ash­ley Medicks at his home in Kirkcud­bright yes­ter­day

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