Monmouth man tells of living with incurable leukaemia

A 59-YEAR-old man is helping to raise awareness about an incurable blood cancer after his diagnosis triggered a fundamental lifestyle change that brought him to south Wales. Paul Glinn, who moved to Monmouth from London after he was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in March 2018, has become something of a champion in raising awareness of the condition, and held a talk last week at an event for leukaemia patients in Cardiff. Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells and tends to progress slowly over many years, causing serious fatigue and making sufferers susceptible to illnesses.

Mr Glinn, a keen runner who used to clock up five miles every other day before starting work as an architect project manager at Marks and Spencer, was only three miles into a run in May 2016 when he realised he had experienced a total collapse in energy in energy. He struggled to make it back to his house and the incident sparked a lengthy search for answers for Mr Glinn and his wife, initially to no avail. “I spoke to my GP in London and underwent several tests, but I was unable to find a cause for the extreme fatigue,” he said.

It was only during a private medical provided by his employer in January 2018, that he was informed about an abnormal white blood cell count. He was quickly referred to the Hammersmith Hospital in London, where he was diagnosed with CLL in March 2018. “I soon realised when the symptoms were described to me that I’d been suffering for a couple of years,” he said.

“I felt very fortuitous that I had the chance to have that personal medical, but for many people that chance isn’t there, and that’s another reason why I feel it is important to raise awareness of the condition. “I went for quite a long time without realising what was wrong with me. If it wasn’t for that medical I’d have carried on working, and then who knows what might have happened.”

READ MORE: Mr Glinn recalls the day of his diagnosis with more of thankfulness than sadness about his condition. “When you hear someone say you have leukaemia you think your world is coming to an end,” he said.

“But it isn’t always like that. What I worried about most at that time was having to leave work. “I was under a lot of pressure and maybe that is what caused the illness, but I loved my jobs and thinking back I was a borderline workaholic, often working silly hours.”

It was Mr Glinn’s wife who advised him to throw the towel in on the rat-race lifestyle in London and move “up in the sticks”. “To be told I shouldn’t work again was a tough pill to swallow, especially seeing my wife still going to work most days,” he said. “But I’m not complaining.

We have a lovely life in Monmouth and two of my children who moved here with us have settled in really well too. “It’s been a good place for me to de-stress. I started meditating in April 2016 and I find that more effective now I’m in Monmouth.

“I find once I do that, other issues like anxiety and worry around the condition dissipate, and I can see life with more clarity.” It is seven-10 years before he can have any treatment for the condition, but Mr Glinn says his symptoms have worsened since moving to Monmouth. “I often feel myself getting much more tired now,” he said.

“My GP told me that is due to the adrenaline when I was working. Retirement hit me like a truck in that sense.” Itching to keep busy, Mr Glinn now volunteers for a council initiative on climate change issues, and is currently renovating the new family home, but he is not blase in his approach to his illness.

“I am a member of a voluntary group but I don’t commit to taking major roles in any groups anymore because sometimes I won’t have the energy to put into the work.” He also spends time attending talks organised by the charity CLL Support, and has been enthused by increasing awareness on the condition. “I’ve been to a couple now including one in Bournemouth and one in London, and I quite liked speaking to people about the illness.

“I don’t want to be defined by CLL, but talking to people has helped me to answer questions that I hadn’t been able to get information on at my local hospital.

“It helps to know that other people are living with CLL who I can turn to for support, and since living in Monmouth I have now found a small group in this town alone.

Membership for CLL Support is free to all people living with CLL, their families and friends.

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