Successful businessman fights rare, incurable blood cancer

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A businessman from Derbyshire spoke about how his diagnosis of life-limiting cancer has affected his daily life.

Gary Shaw, 51, the general manager of a recruiting agency in Swadlincote, was first diagnosed with the disease in 2019.

The deadly disease, polycythemia, is cancer in the blood and currently has no cure due to a lack of research around the disease.

Symptoms of the disease can vary, but for Gary his diagnosis was delayed because he also suffered from Crohn’s disease.

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He said, “Blood cancers are not like normal cancers where you have a tumor, because the cancer is actually in the blood.

“It is life-limiting, but it’s managed with treatment and medication.

“So that’s what happened and obviously when I was diagnosed it took a little while for me to come to terms with the diagnosis obviously, and because by the minute there is no cure. “

Gary explained how his symptoms could easily be mistaken for his Crohn’s disease, which included hot sweating, itchy skin, blood blisters in his mouth, and mouth ulcers.

He admits he struggled with his diagnosis at first, but tries to keep his attitude positive.

He said, “My attitude now since my diagnosis is to keep smiling every day and keep pushing things forward because I have to be thankful that I’m still here.

“But it’s very difficult, every day is difficult and it’s living with the uncertainty that you know.

“I don’t know what time I’m going to end up, and living with that uncertainty is a difficult thing to go through on a daily basis.”

But following his diagnosis in October 2019, Gary was able to count on the support of his friends and family.

One of Gary’s methods of dealing with his condition was to start fundraising for more research into the disease.

Gary, who recently married his wife Trish, frequently attends fundraising events for Blood Cancer UK.

This led him to become the Blood Cancer UK Ambassador for the Derbyshire and Staffordshire region.

He said, “I started fundraising in the hope that I could raise enough funds for the treatment of other people and the next generation to hopefully try to cure the next generation.



Gary, Trish and other supporters of the charity frequently organize fundraising events.

“I fill my time and my day because if I don’t do something I’m going to sit and think about my illness and I don’t want to do that.

“I prefer to keep busy so that my time is occupied during the week and during the day.

“It just gives me more motivation because I try to help others, because even though I have my own illness to deal with, there are still people who need the help I need.

“It just helps my motivation and my determination to keep going. “

Gary is now helping to organize a special Halloween event to raise money for the charity.

The Halloween Ball, scheduled to take place on October 30 in Findern, will feature a live band, a three-course meal, and a fear zone.

You can find out more about the event here.

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