- Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Peter's story

In 2018 Peter was working as the curator at Black’s Point Museum in Reefton and looking forward to retirement. He hadn’t been to his GP for a while so decided to go for a routine check-up and blood test.

The GP noticed a  problem with Peter’s blood and referred the results to a haematologist in Christchurch. He got a report back and called Peter in to talk about it, as Peter explains: “The GP told me I had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) – it was a shock. He explained it might be years before I would need treatment, I remember feeling annoyed at the time because I wanted it to be fixed but put it to the back of my mind and carried on with life.”

Peter had regular blood tests to keep track of the progress of his CLL. At the beginning of last year, just 12 months after his initial diagnosis, his blood markers started to increase: “The haematologist told me that things were
progressing more quickly than expected and I would need to start chemotherapy right away.”

Peter had six months of chemotherapy – traveling to Greymouth regularly from his home on the family farm: “I started chemo in May and finished in October – the first few rounds were OK but it got harder as it went along. When I came out of the last chemo I felt like an old man –but I got through it and I’m starting to get my strength back now.”

When Peter was in Greymouth for his treatment he met up with LBC’s Matt Eby as he explains: “It was great meeting Matt, I could sit comfortably with a cuppa and talk to him about anything – it was a nice little sanctuary to go to!”

Matt let Peter know about support that was available but one of the best pieces of advice he received was from a friend who suggested he write down some of the things that had happened in his life: “I am a typical Kiwi bloke and didn’t always deal with my emotions well, but I found if I wrote things down it helped me come to terms with things.”

Peter continues to have three monthly blood tests and so far everything is heading in the right direction, as he explains: “I do realise I have leukaemia and it will come back one day but I have accepted
it, I could go another 20 years so there is no point worrying about it. I have goals and enjoy the important things in life like friendships and family and working on my land.”