New Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Support Group launches

A new support group for cancer patients is holding a launch party on Wednesday 25 July and would like to encourage patients and their friends and family to attend.

The Derriford Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) Support Group has been created for patients, by patients, along with support from staff at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust.

The event will take place at the Derriford Centre for Health and Wellbeing, within the grounds of Derriford Hospital. Attendees are invited to arrive at 13.00, when a buffet lunch will also be served.

Dr Sam Burrows, Sue Gilbert and Claire Hutchinson “Being diagnosed with CLL is devastating for patients,” explains Sue Gilbert, Haematology Cancer Nurse Specialist. “It is a form of cancer, in the blood. However, people can live with CLL for many years before needing treatment.

“During this ‘watch and wait’ period, patients are monitored but it can still be a very worrying time. It therefore makes complete sense for patients to have access to peer support, and fellow patients can be a great help in providing reassurance to one another.

“The group will also provide support for the friends and family of CLL patients, as they need support too.”

The afternoon event is supported by Plymouth and District Leukaemia Fund (PDLF) and will include a talk by Haematology Consultant, Dr Sam Burrows, about the nature of CLL and treatment options available.

Nigel Cammann, a CLL patient, said: “When the doctor first tells you that you have CLL, you want to find out as much about the disease as possible, but there’s a lot of technical information. This support group makes it much more personal, and local. These are real people, both newly diagnosed and those who have been living with CLL for some years.

“Having the chance to talk to others in the same situation as you helps you to realise that you are not alone, and takes away some of the uncertainty.”

John Coles, from Stoke in Plymouth, added: “The support group is so welcoming. It is lovely to be able to share your experience of CLL with other patients, who fully understand the impact of the diagnosis. Talking to them is very reassuring.”

The group has recently established a website (www.derrifordcllsupport.org) to provide help and information, as well as details about upcoming support group meetings. There is also a closed Facebook group for members to stay in touch (https://www.facebook.com/groups/derriford.cll/).

“We’re really excited about the support that is now available, and it is only with the financial support of the Trust and the PDLF that it is becoming a reality,” said Sue. “We’d also like to thank Nigel for his help in setting up the website and Facebook group.”

There is no need to book to attend the launch event, just come along on the day. If you have any questions, you can email susan.gilbert2@nhs.net  or call 01752 431206.

Pictured above from left: Dr Sam Burrows, Sue Gilbert and Dr Claire Hutchinson. The team are working to make research trials available for local CLL patients.