“It was like a military operation, just trying to break the news!”
Ian Scott had just received his chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) diagnosis, and he was trying to figure out how to tell his mum, who lives in the UK.
“I phoned my siblings and said – ‘look, I need you to go to mum and dad’s house, and I’m gonna phone you there. Be there for when I tell her the news’.” Operation: Reveal the Diagnosis had begun.
Ian knew the news would hit his mother hardest, considering the extensive toll that cancer has had on her family. In fact, this was one of the first things that ran through his mind when he was told by his haematologist that he had CML.
He had the usual questions – like whether he now had a shortened life expectancy; the answer was no. He wondered how his job would be impacted. “I said, ‘What about work?’, and my haematologist said, ‘Look, sorry to break it to you, but you’re still going to be working!’”
It turned out that Ian’s CML is manageable, thanks to recent developments in treatment. “I thought to go on treatment, you go on chemo. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? The natural thinking, is you get cancer, you have chemo.”
But he didn’t need chemo. Instead, he was prescribed a drug called Imatinib. Prior to his diagnosis, he spent an entire year struggling with shortness of breath and trouble with intense exercise. Imatinib helped him get all of that under control.
Maintaining ‘control’ is a theme that sticks out in Ian’s story. Early in his diagnosis, he was given some practical advice that helped him navigate his journey.
“Straight after the diagnosis, I freaked out. My boss calmed me down and gave me a process to follow. He helped me to put structure around how I wanted the conversation with my mum to go. And we talked about the value of good information – avoid Google and Facebook!”
Ian learned the importance of meeting other patients. He attended an LBC conference where he was able to connect with other people living with CML. It put things into perspective. “Their stories were far more troublesome. They had been to hell and back, some of these people.”
This wasn’t the first time that Ian had been involved with LBC. He participated in past fundraising activities like the Step Up Challenge Sky Tower in 2014. ”Somebody organised that at work and I thought, ‘yeah, they look like a good group of people to support.’” And, since receiving his CML diagnosis, he has continued to support LBC in an advisor role, joining the LBC Consumer Advisory Board in 2019.
As a senior manager at a recruitment company, Ian knows just how important it is to make genuine human connections with people, especially when you share a major life challenge.
“It raises your empathy, it raises your understanding, and it raises your care factor.”