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So I was going about my life last week when my doctor called and said I had leukemia.

Surprise!  That was an interesting way to start the day. Especially when I felt perfectly healthy! 

I had offhandedly mentioned to my doctor at a routine appointment that an area under my ribs on my left side had felt hard (but not painful) for several months. Little did I know that it was my enlarged spleen, swollen with all the extra white blood cells my body has been making.

Turns out I have a rare form of cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML. It is a non-genetic condition caused when an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome allows large amounts of diseased white blood cells to be produced. These diseased cells crowd out healthy blood cells, compromising the immune system.

My hematologist said CML is the best type of leukemia to have, since in the past eight years a "miracle drug" called Gleevec was developed that essentially treats CML with minimal side effects. If I respond well to the Gleevec, all signs of the leukemia should be gone in about a year, though I'll have to continue taking the drug indefinitely to ensure that I don't relapse.

Thank goodness for the inventors of Gleevec!  Without them, I would have had to have chemo and a bone marrow transplant, and my condition would be considered much more risky. Instead, I will hopefully escape with only some minor side effects, like perhaps some diarrhea, nausea or water retention. I'll find out tomorrow, since I start my treatment then!

Also, though this situation has convinced me even more of the flawed nature of privatized health care, I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank Anthem for picking up the extra $4852 per month for my prescription. Yes, I received a 99% discount on my life saving meds. So that's something to be thankful for!

I haven't found much not to be thankful for, really. I haven't experienced any pain or discomfort (to date, at least!), I'll probably be alive for many more years to come (fingers crossed), and I don't even have to lose my hair!  Thus far it's mainly been dealing with logistics of doctor visits, insurance, and prescriptions.

I've greatly appreciated the outpouring of love and support from family and friends during this time. Thank you so much to everyone who has offered such kind words and deeds!  It's been wonderful to feel so valued and supported.

Another benefit of having leukemia is having food prescribed as part of my treatment plan. Appointments with my hematologist include some discussion of cancer, but mainly our conversations have centered around Asian food. So, like any good patient, I followed my doctor's advice and checked out Thai Taste, a lovely little family owned restaurant. The food was amazing, and prompted a new obsession with Thai cuisine!  I have already returned to the restaurant since our initial visit (the waiter greeted me with "Good to see you again!") and Alex and I were inspired tonight to try our own hand at Pad Thai. So our culinary adventures are in full force. Take that, cancer!

Again, I appreciate everyone's love and support during this time...I'll keep you posted with any new developments. For now, I'll focus on reducing my white blood cell count and increasing my Asian food consumption :)

Sonja

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