Blood cancer makes me live life to the full
New appeal launched
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