Haematology win top cancer award for second time

Our haematology department has scooped a national award for its commitment to patients living with incurable blood cancer.

Members of the team were presented with the Myeloma UK Clinical Service Excellence Programme (CSEP) Award yesterday, in recognition of its outstanding care and dedication to patients with myeloma, an incurable blood cancer which claims the lives of 3,000 people in the UK each year.

This is the second time we’ve received the award, which is only handed to a select few hospitals every four years. Staff were praised for their efforts to improve patients’ quality of life and eagerness to adapt and listen to their needs.

The accolade, awarded by blood cancer charity Myeloma UK, recognises hospitals’ commitment to raising the bar for treatment and providing compassionate care.

Dr Cesar Gomez, Consultant Haematologist, said: “On behalf of the myeloma team, we are immensely proud and delighted to receive this award. It not only validates our dedication but also invigorates our commitment to providing the best possible care. This honour inspires us to keep improving our patient services, striving in all we do.”

Myeloma is especially hard to spot as the symptoms are often vague and dismissed as ageing or other minor conditions.

By the time many patients are diagnosed their cancer has often advanced and they require urgent treatment. This can significantly impact their chances of survival and quality of life.

Jess Turner, Clinical Practice Services Programme Manager at Myeloma UK, said: “Myeloma is a challenging cancer that can change on a dime, so we were hugely impressed with the team’s efforts to adapt to patients’ needs and make sure they are given every chance to keep their disease in check – no matter where they live.

“The focus on allowing patients to get on with their lives as much as possible, treating them closer to home and sparing them from exhausting back-and-forth trips to hospital really stood out.

“The hospital’s Mobile Cancer Unit alone, supported by the N&N Hospitals Charity, has made a dramatic difference to patients over the last three years, some of whom would otherwise face 50-mile round trips for treatment.”

Patient Victoria Taylor was diagnosed with myeloma in 2009 after a year of increasingly debilitating symptoms and back-to-back infections. She was 56 years old.

She’s now thanked the team for giving her a chance to see her grandchildren grow up.

“They’ve got your back,” said Victoria, a grandmother-of-five from Norwich. “I had never heard of myeloma and nobody I knew had ever heard of it. It all got worrying at the beginning. You look on Google and frighten yourself to death. My husband took it as being terminal instead of incurable… The first time I met my doctor, I asked what the prognosis was. He said, ‘It could be six months or it could be 20 years, so let’s push for the 20 years’.”

The 71-year-old added: “I wanted to be around for my grandchildren – they’re the light of my life. And 14 years on I’m still here and that’s all down to the Norfolk and Norwich, they’ve been wonderful.”

Myeloma occurs in the bone marrow and currently affects over 24,000 people in the UK.

It is a relapsing-remitting cancer, meaning that although many patients will experience periods of remission following treatment, the disease will inevitably return.

More than half of patients face a wait of over five months to receive the right diagnosis and around a third are diagnosed through A&E.  While it is incurable, myeloma is treatable in the majority of cases. Treatment is aimed at controlling the disease, relieving the complications and symptoms it causes, and extending and improving patients’ quality of life.