A LEUKAEMIA care patient who recently beat cancer travelled 200 miles to Troon to meet up with her support buddy.

Ross Happell, from Troon, provided emotional support to 55-year-old Julie Robinson from Droylsden, Manchester through Leukemia Care's buddy system while she underwent care for B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) - an incredibly rare form of cancer that begins when the white blood cells called lymphocytes form in the bone marrow, the soft inner part of the bones.

Ross was 20 when he was diagnosed with ALL back in 1986 and is currently free from Leukaemia, and has been spending his time helping Julie through her feelings associated with battling the illness.

Ross said: “I have that longevity that nobody had when I was going through the system and that is why the buddy system is so good.

"Now there are people around like myself that can talk to newly diagnosed patients and say 'look, I have done this, and I am still here'. 

"Current ‘patients’ can talk to people who understand their thoughts and feelings as they go on this weird journey.

"To steal someone else’s buzz phrase ‘cancer never ends at discharge’, it is always lurking at the back of your mind and as patients we can relate to one another.

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“Before Julie and I were ‘paired’ through the buddy scheme obviously we didn’t know each other and sometimes it is difficult to pick up the phone and start a conversation with someone you do not know, but gradually you find connections that enable you to bond and be able to build some trust to open up about your cancer treatment and all the emotions you feel when going through that.

"It is a case of listening and being there for them."

When the pair met it felt as though they were old friends, and they spent the evening talking and laughing.

Julie said: “Recently I had the opportunity to meet up in person with Ross, my ‘Leukaemia Care buddy’.

"When I mentioned on a call that my husband and I were taking a short break on the Ayrshire coast, Ross told me that the location was only 20 minutes from his hometown, and so we were able to go out together for a meal one evening.

“I am delighted to say that I got to “ring the bell” for the end of treatment in August this year."

Julie continued: "I’m currently waiting for my final bone marrow biopsy analysis.

"I’m not naïve enough to think that my cancer journey is now over, as relapse over the next few years is a possibility, but I am trying to live by the mantra given to me by a fellow cancer patient – don’t let the fear of tomorrow steal the joy of today.”

Find out more about Leukaemia Care’s buddy system here.