Leamington doctor’s poetry raising awareness of blood cancer

Dr Jaya Ravindran
Dr Jaya Ravindran

A Leamington doctor is aiming to raise awareness of blood cancer through his poetry after being diagnosed with the disease.

Dr Jaya Ravindran, 47, has written a collection of entitled ‘Hope’ in a bid to raise awareness of blood cancer and the ease with which donors can now be added to the bone marrow register.

The collection reflects on the major milestones in Jaya’s life: from the early days of his studies, to becoming a father and his own diagnosis of cancer and subsequent journey.

Sales of the book will also raise funds for two leading blood cancer charities, Anthony Nolan and Bloodwise, and for his daughter’s future.

The retired rheumatologist received his diagnosis of acute blood cancer while working at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry in 2014.

Dr Ravindran said: “When it comes to your own health, being a doctor can be both a blessing and a curse.

“Once I received the diagnosis I knew all too well how things could go, which led to a great deal of soul searching.

“Poetry has always been a passion of mine but it became a form of therapy, enabling me to put my feelings – both positive and negative – into words.”

After intensive chemotherapy, Jaya received a bone marrow transplant in April 2017. It was thought he was on his way to recovery.

But in August, Jaya received the devastating news that, without further treatment, he had just weeks to live.

He has now been given access to a drug, which he hopes will prolong his survival long enough to cement his legacy.

He added: “I hope that through my book, people will get some insight into how it feels to go on this journey.

“For those who are suffering, I hope they can see that they are not alone.

“If the book can go some way to helping raise awareness then it is a legacy that I will be proud to leave behind.”

Each year around 2,000 people in the UK with blood cancer need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant, usually their last chance of survival.

75 per cent of these patients won’t find a matching donor within their family so they rely on charities who work with potential donors to find an unrelated match.

Only 60 per cent of patients can find the best match from a stranger, and this drops to 20 per cent if the patient is from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

Jaya said: “Few people realise that it takes little more than a mouth swab to join the bone marrow register and the transplant itself is similar to giving blood.

“If we could increase the number of potential donors on the register then the chances of finding a match would increase exponentially.”

The book, will be sent to those donating online here