In October 2019, Graeme Campbell was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. His wife Fiona, a physiotherapist and member of Burntwood Triathlon Club, took on the 2.6 challenge along with a number of club members to raise £1545 for Myeloma UK.
Speaking about her husband’s diagnosis, Fiona said: “Myeloma has had a huge impact on the family. Graeme’s symptoms started with severe back pain which eventually started to radiate into his rib cage.
“He visited the GP a couple of times as the pain changed from his back to his rib cage and following an x-ray and then a blood test at hospital, he was rushed up to the renal unit with only 3% kidney function. This is where the diagnosis of multiple myeloma was made and has changed the rest of our lives forever.”
Myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, is a blood cancer arising from plasma cells. Each year in the UK approximately 5,700 people are diagnosed with myeloma, and at any one time there are around 24,000 people living with myeloma in the UK.
Accounting for 15% of all blood cancers and 2% of all cancers, myeloma mainly affects over-65s but has been diagnosed in people much younger.
Graeme and Fiona have two young children, Dylan and Erin, and myeloma has had a significant impact on the Campbell’s family life. Graeme managed his son’s football team and often refereed before his symptoms prevented him from occupying the role.
Fiona added: “The kids haven’t got a daddy at the moment who can play with them. I would say quality of life for my husband is very low with no real joy. However, staying positive is key and we feel we are ¾ of the way up a very steep mountain to get to his stem cell transplant which we hope will eventually give him some degree of normality back to his life.”
Fiona is a member of Burntwood Triathlon Club, based in Burntwood and Litchfield, Staffordshire. The club has been around since the mid-90s and Fiona has been a member for more than 17 years. One member, Charlotte Morely, introduced the idea of fundraising for myeloma through the 2.6 Challenge and around twelve members and friends took part in the challenge across one week.
“The club joined in with the recent national 2.6 Challenge campaign and chose Myeloma UK due to the connection of myself to the club and I am honoured and very grateful for,” commented Fiona.
The 2.6 Challenge is an organised response to the devastating impact that Covid-19 has had on fundraising events across the country. The challenge asks people to take part in various activities centred around the numbers 2.6 or 26 to raise funds for charities.
Club members took to their living rooms, back gardens and out on the streets to complete the challenge in their own way. Some running as far as they could over 26 minutes, others cycling 26 miles on stationary bikes. Other challenges included performing 26 press ups and 260 skips in 2.6 minutes, which is 156 seconds.
Despite initially aiming to raise just £200, the challenge was a resounding success, raising £1545 for Myeloma UK.
“Myeloma is such a rare cancer and it helps to raise awareness of this largely unknown cancer. The research is vital to find better treatments to help those live longer along with a good quality of life,” Fiona commented.
“Hopefully one day there may be a cure or at least that many treatments available that it becomes a chronic cancer that people can live with for the rest of their lives.”