I have been married for nearly 35 years and have two sons, 26 and 28, and until July 2007 I was a self-employed Business Consultant, specialising in the ladies clothing industry. I was travelling extensively, buying and selling fabric and clothing. I enjoyed working hard and the rewards that came with that.
I began to feel extremely tired and my wife pushed me to the doctors, where I had a blood test. The doctor phoned me the next day and told me that I would have to go to hospital, to see a specialist. My tonsils had swollen and I was not sleeping properly.
I had an operation to remove my tonsils and adenoids and felt a whole lot better, but they informed me that they had done a biopsy on my tonsils and discovered that I had Mantle Cell Lymphoma Stage IV. I was told there was no cure but they could give me chemotherapy, to shrink the tumours, and then a stem cell transplant which might give me some more time.
I had 6 regimes of R-Chop which successfully shrunk the tumours and put me into remission. I was lucky as I had no sibling donor but a stem cell donor was found, through The Anthony Nolan Trust. (thank you!!)
I had my transplant on the 19th of December 2007. After approximately six months of fantastic care by wife and doctors, I was back on my feet and living my new life. Unfortunately this didn’t include going back to work, as since my transplant, I have suffered various infections and viruses and been seriously ill with Graft V Host disease on numerous occasions.
In 2011, when I felt I might be over the worst, I started to think about a return to work, but then got shingles on the back of my head, followed by GVHD of my skin and muscles. I am currently being treated for this at St Thomas’s in London with a process called Photopherisis
I felt I was becoming a prisoner to the disease, as I was always at the hospital or resting at home, so I decided that I would try and make something positive from my situation. Initially I started my own charity at St Georges in London. I wanted to raise money for specialist equipment in the ward that looks after me. www.justgiving.com/chrislewis2
I then started volunteering to fit around my health availability. I now work with several of the national cancer charities getting involved in numerous projects that enable me to use my business and personal skills. I work to raise cancer awareness in the community.
Frequently, I am invited to talk