A Christleton man suffering from a rare form of cancer is hoping to raise awareness of the condition and fundraise for a cure.
Rod Alexander, 54, of Little Heath Road, was diagnosed with myeloma - a relapsing-remitting cancer of the bone marrow - in July last year and commenced treatment the same day.
The technical sales representative underwent seven months of chemotherapy at the Countess of Chester Hospital , followed by a stem cell transplant at The Christie in Manchester.
Although the disease is currently in remission, Rod’s life expectancy has been drastically reduced to two to five years.
Rod, who has two children in their early 20s, said: “At present, I look healthy and well but I have eleven cracked vertebrae, I’ve lost two and a half inches in height and extensive damage to my ribs and sternum.
“I am fragile so my ‘bucket list’ options are pretty limited and I need to take a cocktail of drugs to keep me pain-free and functioning.
“ I’m on two Myeloma XI trial drugs which are giving promising results, but mess with the body’s routines somewhat.
“I get tired very quickly, but each month I’m getting stronger. Seven months post-transplant, I accept this may be as good as it gets.
“If I think about it all, it could become too much. I’m still alive and I feel remarkably positive.”
But with one study estimating that 97% of people have never heard of myeloma, Rod is keen to increase its profile and warn people about the importance of early diagnosis.
Symptoms include persistent pain in the lower back and ribs, unexplained tiredness that lasts for more than two weeks and weakness or numbness in arms and legs.
Rod said: “The big danger is the delay in diagnosis. Many medical professionals are unaware of this disease because it is comparatively rare, particularly in the under 65s, and can strike fit and outwardly healthy people.”
With the help of friends, Patrizio’s in Upton and Russell & Russell Solicitors in Chester , Rod raised £600 for Myeloma UK during the summer by holding a charity gig featuring the band, Poor Misguided Fools.
Having become an officially registered fundraiser for the charity and organised events like a coffee morning and school lucky dips, he has now raised more than £5,000 of his £50,000 target which he hopes to meet by June next year.
The fundraising will culminate with a concert at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on June 20.
Rod said: “With 2,000 tickets to sell we’ll be looking for all the support we can get.
“I accept I am dying and I want to raise both cash and awareness of this hideous disease in order to alert others of the early signs,” he added.