A father of three's incurable blood cancer was initially mistaken for breathing issues.

By the time Tim Brown’s condition was finally caught, he had holes, known as lesions, in his chest and had suffered major damage to his kidneys.

The 65-year-old, from Marlborough, was previously a sports coach and ex-serviceman, and started to feel unusually drained and developed a persistent cough in November 2022.

After several weeks back and forth to his local GP surgery, Tim was diagnosed with bronchial hypersensitivity, a condition linked to asthma, and sent on his way.

But after Tim’s pain and weakness significantly worsened in January, he was rushed straight to A&E at Great Western Hospital in Swindon.

Tests revealed that his symptoms were caused by Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, which had been left undiagnosed for so long that Tim was left with holes in his bones.

Swindon Advertiser: Tim Brown credits Great Western Hospital for his lifechanging diagnosis.Tim Brown credits Great Western Hospital for his lifechanging diagnosis. (Image: Myeloma UK)

“My kidneys were dangerously compromised,” he recalled. “My bones had been damaged and I had pains in my rib cage and back.

“I had never heard of myeloma. When the consultant told me, I remember he handed me a handkerchief for my tears. It was so subtle and caring – I will always remember that.”

Great Western Hospital has now been awarded the national Myeloma UK Clinical Service Excellence Programme Award in recognition of its outstanding commitment to patients like Tim, living with incurable blood cancer.

While it is incurable, myeloma can be treated to control the disease and improve patients’ quality of life.

Swindon Advertiser: Tim Brown presented the team at Great Western Hospital with an award on behalf of Myeloma UK.Tim Brown presented the team at Great Western Hospital with an award on behalf of Myeloma UK. (Image: Myeloma UK)

“I remember the healthcare assistant came in to see me and she looked at me and said, you will be OK, I promise. It was what I needed,” said the ex-serviceman.

“Nicky, the stem cell transplant specialist nurse, makes me feel like I’m her only patient.

“The consultations are fun, we joke, there’s some banter. There are no surprises about what’s going to happen or what might happen.”

More than half of patients face a wait of over five months to receive the right diagnosis and around a third, like Tim, are diagnosed through A&E.

Rhys Owens, Clinical Practice Services Senior Projects Officer at Myeloma UK, said: “Staff at the Great Western Hospital truly go the extra mile to make sure myeloma patients in and around Swindon get the care they need.

“Myeloma is a challenging cancer which can be really difficult to cope with both physically and mentally, so the hospital works closely with a range of local services, including Prospect Hospice, to give patients access to psychological support and complementary therapies and help them through the rollercoaster of cancer treatment.”