Lymphoma Voices podcast with Lord Menzies Campbell

In our latest podcast our Patron, Lord Menzies Campbell, talks to us about his esteemed and varied career, how some of his greatest achievements have been since his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2002.

Image of Ropinder Gill and Lord Campbell

Lord Menzies Campbell is probably best known as a Member of Parliament, but prior to that he was an Olympic athlete and had established a career in law. He was first elected to Westminster in 1987 for the Scottish constituency of North East Fife before going on to become the Liberal Democrat chief spokesperson for foreign affairs and defence, deputy leader in February 2003, and party leader from March 2006 until October 2007.

In 2002, Lord Campbell was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “It was a huge shock” he says. “I had a sore back for quite some time and I went to see a consultant, but the pain was initially put down to years of wear and tear from playing sport. I was referred to a sports physiotherapist, but after a few sessions with him the pain was not getting any better, and the therapist was sure that the problem was actually in my hip, and not in my back. I was referred back to hospital to have further X-rays of my hip, and I remember being in the room with 3 consultants who, upon looking at the results of the X-rays were clearly concerned that this was more than a sporting injury. I was transferred to a specialist unit the next day to be properly assessed. After a series of tests, it was confirmed that I had a cancerous tumour on my hip, which turned out to be lymphoma.”

Lord Campbell started chemotherapy straight away, undertaking a trial with a two-week chemotherapy cycle rather than the usual three, before a course of radiotherapy. Whilst still undergoing treatment in 2003, he was elected as deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats. A few years later, and after he completed his treatment, he went on to become the Liberal Democrat party leader from March 2006 until October 2007. Lord Campbell stepped down as a Member of Parliament in 2015 after 27 years, and received a life peerage, becoming Baron Campbell of Pittenweem and a member of the House of Lords where he continues to follow his interest in foreign affairs.

“Upon reflecting back on my experience with lymphoma, I have come to realise you need good fortune, good treatment and good support” he says. “I am one of the lucky ones who has had all three. My wife has been spectacular in her support and I had letter after letter from colleagues and constituents showing their support. I am truly thankful to every one of them.”

“Support is the thing that helps you cope, and that is why I am so honoured to be the patron of Lymphoma Action” he adds. “The Charity’s work plays an important role in so many people’s lives, not only by supporting people living with a lymphoma diagnosis, but also their loved ones by providing the mechanisms to help them cope with treatment and recovery. I feel very privileged to be a part of it, and hope that my story shows others that people can come through a lymphoma diagnosis and out the other side.” 

Listen to Lymphoma Action’s Lymphoma Voices podcast series here or download episodes from Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

15 December 2021