Houghton man puts his name to campaign to put blood cancer under the spotlight
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:00 30 October 2017
Blood cancer patient Jeff Pike has a major problem on his hands - what to do with a giant sculpture of his name used as part of a campaign to put his condition under the spotlight.
The blood red Jeff statue, by the internationally-acclaimed British designer Paul Cocksedge, was one of 104 put on display in Paternoster Square, London, to represent the number of people diagnosed with a form of blood cancer each day.
Jeff, 58, was presented with the sculpture at the end of the display and it is now at his home in Houghton.
“It weighs about 40lbs and is made of polystyrene and steel bars. The doorstep is as far as I could get it,” said Jeff, who provides strategy and marketing for a software firm.
The former RAF Wing Commander, who served at both Wyton and Brampton, was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma on his 52nd birthday after two years of tests.
He now lives with the condition, which does not have a cure but can be managed, and leads a near-normal life.
The statue was part of the Make Cancer Visible campaign, involving nine blood cancer support groups and sponsored by pharmaceutical firm Janssen, set up as a result of low public and patient awareness of the condition.
Jeff said he had been a keen sportsman and was fit but felt tired which he thought may have been related to a lot of international travel, but had no other symptoms.
He underwent two years of tests and doctors thought he may have picked up a virus in South Africa or was suffering from malaria.
“I went to see another consultant who did a CT scan and picked up a lymph node which was slightly above normal. I went to Papworth Hospital for a biopsy and I was told I had cancer on my birthday,” said Jeff, who had developed a persistent cough.
He said he had a slow-growing follicular lymphoma which could have been present for seven years.
Jeff said the condition was incurable but improvements to immunology meant he had gone from having a 10 per cent chance of survival to a 10 per cent chance of death.
“I have been tested so much that at least I know there is nothing else wrong with me,” said Jeff, who is married with two grown-up daughters.
He said he had never let his cancer define him, although it could make a difficult conversation if he tried to describe his condition and good prognosis.
Jeff said he became involved in the campaign to help get the perceptions of a patient across.