A BROMSGROVE man who has incurable blood cancer will be having his locks lopped off to raise funds for Myeloma UK.
John Gibson, 59, was diagnosed with myeloma, an especially hard-to-spot blood cancer, after being admitted to A&E with acute kidney failure and unexplained fractures in 2019.
He had suffered severe back and abdominal pain for weeks but, despite losing a stone in a month, his cancer was repeatedly missed.
The retired secondary school teacher, who grew up in Bromsgrove, now hopes his ‘Big Head Shave: Wear Bare Hair Challenge’ tomorrow will help raise £4,000 for Myeloma UK, the charity which has supported him through two challenging years of treatment and a recent relapse.
John, who attended Charford First School, Watt Close (now St John’s Middle School) and South Bromsgrove High, said Myeloma UK provided advice, guidance and specific support to patients and their families.
“It is also an invaluable source of mental health support, that has enabled me to stay positive, encouraged and empowered during very challenging times.”
John, who will be wearing boxing gloves to symbolise his tireless fight against the disease, said his big shave was about helping future cancer patients.
“Who knows, myeloma may even throw in the towel one day and become a curable disease?
“I’ll be fighting in the ring for Myeloma UK because by fighting together we’ll strike a knockout blow.”
Myeloma originates in bone marrow and over half of patients wait of more than five months for the right diagnosis and a third are diagnosed through an emergency route. By that point, many are experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms.
By the time John was hospitalised in May 2019, his kidney function had dropped to just eight per cent and the consultant at the Royal Derby Hospital did not know how he was even conscious.
John had chemotherapy and went into remission but the cancer returned in 2021 – he will find out at the end of this month how his body has responded.
He said: “I have so many supporters in my corner – my fantastic wife Diane, ever positive family members, great friends, supportive neighbours and community, and totally brilliant NHS staff are all rooting for me.”
The head shave will be his growing locks’ first cut since he lost his hair after a stem cell transplant 19 months ago.
“Symbolically, this head shave reminds me how lucky I am. I’m still here, able to enjoy life and have fun.”
Visit justgiving.com/fundraising/john-gibson21 to donate to John’s cause.