Leukemia

Leukemia. Certainly not one of the words you expect to hear from your doctor when he’s calling about blood test results and telling you to get to the ER.

I hadn’t been feeling great since about October 10th — no appetite, a light fever of about 100F, and was easily getting out of breath due to light physical exertion. But I also wasn’t stuck in bed or on the couch the whole time, so I figured I was just fighting some cold or flu.

After over a week of not feeling great though, I decided to see my regular doctor this past Tuesday the 18th. He had bloodwork done that morning and called me late that evening with the results, telling me to get to the ER immediately. I believe he said a normal white blood cell count while fighting an infection might be something like 12,000 while mine was 94,000 — the highest he had ever seen in a patient. There were also immature white blood cells in my blood stream and other signs of serious trouble.

Now, after having had lots of tests done, including a fairly painful bone marrow biopsy, it’s confirmed that it’s leukemia, specifically acute lymphoblastic leukemia. I start chemo today and I’ll be stuck in the hospital for 4-6 weeks. They say most people actually start to feel better despite the drugs although I will eventually be losing all of my hair. It’ll grow back, but that’s going to be quite the experience.

My understanding is once I get out of the hospital, I’ll still be coming here a few times a week for about 6 months for further care and it’ll be possible that I’m feeling well enough to both drive myself and go back to work. Even after that it’ll be another 3 years of treatment.

The details are of course still a bit fuzzy since it’s early on and more tests still need to come back, but they seem very optimistic about my long term chances.

It’s been pretty surreal to go from feeling perfectly normal to starting chemo in a period of less than 2 weeks.

This is going to be quite the journey…

81 thoughts on “Leukemia

  1. Sorry to hear. It can be a struggle for sure, but you can overcome! My dad was diagnosed with leukemia in 1994, but kept positive and fought through it and is probably the healthiest he’s ever been now. Keep your head up and stay strong. And don’t hesitate to reach out and let people know when you need help with anything or someone to talk or vent to.

  2. This was a real shock to read, and I’m sure for you to find out in this way. Wishing you strength and energy and healing in this hard journey ahead. You know you’ve got a support network to lean on!

  3. Oh, Alex. I’m so sad to hear this. I hope that treatment goes well, is successful, and that if there’s anything that we can do to help, you’ll let us know. There’s a whole lot of people who care an awful lot about you and are rooting for you to be healthy soon. Sending love from the Bay Area.

  4. Oh Alex, I’m so sorry to hear this. Like everyone else in this thread I’ll be thinking of you and your family and wishing you a full and speedy recovery. Stay strong!

  5. Thinking about you a lot Alex, imagining you getting through this, and then getting to be an extra in a James Bond movie riding in a Viper (or maybe just an Aston Martin). Wishing you all the best.

  6. Alex, Dave just told me your diagnosis. I am so very sorry. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Hoping the treatment is effective and kicks the cancer’s butt.
    Kate

  7. Alex,

    This is just another bump on the road. Stay energized and keep your mind occupied with everything else — hey, in just 11 days we’ll have The Grand Tour coming out!

    Sending you positive vibes from this side of the pond, let me know if I can do anything for you.

    -Filipe

  8. Hey Alex,

    Sorry to hear about your diagnosis! My son was diagnosed with ALL and beat it twice! There have been many advances in treatment since then, so I am positive you will be triumphant. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need an ear.

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