Hodgkin’s disease is a type of lymphoma - a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system.
In 2004 Mark Masson was first diagnosed with an advanced form of Hodgkin’s disease, and after countless cycles of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and relapses, he had a bone marrow transplant using his own stem cells. When this failed, Mark was given a terminal diagnosis and it was predicted that he had just one year to live.
Upon receiving this diagnosis, Mark began to research options worldwide to see if all possibilities had been exhausted. “I had to leave no stone unturned for myself and my family”, Mark says.
Mark contacted clinicians in the USA, Canada, Israel and the UK, until eventually he was referred to Professor Linch, a UCLH haematologist that specialises in Hodgkin’s disease. At the first meeting, Mark and his extended family piled into the professor’s office, anxious with anticipation to hear his thoughts. “There is not no hope”, Professor Linch told Mark.
Fast forward to 2016, Mark has received a life-saving bone marrow transplant, and he looks back to this moment with gratitude: “Professor Linch gave me a thread of a lifeline when I thought there was no hope, and then UCLH saved my life.”
For Mark, that glimmer of hope from Professor Linch at such a challenging time is something he will never forget. In Mark’s words, “mentally I needed to get to a place where I was at peace to let go of the world if I had to, while still maintaining hope that I would get my life back”.
Finding this mental state was difficult to achieve, as the terminal diagnosis had come as a shock and Mark’s son Ben was just three years old at the time.
Mark treasured moments with Ben, and in-between treatments would look forward to catching a few hours with him. “Having Ben was a blessing and a real boost”, Mark says, and adds that he wrote a song for Ben, whilst sitting in a waiting room for treatment. “I wanted to put something on paper to let Ben know how I felt, if the worst were to happen.”
Against all odds, Mark survived, and to say thanks to UCLH and Professor Linch, Mark has walked the 80 mile London Capital Ring to raise money for UCLH Charity’s Haematology Cancer Care fund. “I wanted to give something back to UCLH haematology department for saving my life. I did this doing something I really enjoy and with the added bonus of being joined by my wonderful family and friends along the way; I walked and saw the sights of London.”