December 18, 2003
At about 5:30 p.m., Dr. Alter entered my room, and I knew immediately the news was going to be life changing. He sat down and informed me that the bone biopsy came back positive for leukemia. A jolt of panic surged through my entire body. I took a deep breath, pursed my lips together, and tried to hold back the tears. I parted my lips slightly and released my breath slowly. I glanced at Barbara, and clearly, she was upset. I had suspected as much, but actually hearing it was shocking.
Dr. Alter informed me that Dr. Stuart Goldberg, my oncologist, would be in later to talk to me more in depth about what I was facing and the treatment options available. He also said that another bone marrow extraction would be performed the following day because the one today had produced no marrow and that is needed to determine the type of leukemia I have as there are several varieties.
~ Excerpt from Rebirth: A Leukemia Survivor’s Journal of Healing during Chemotherapy, Bone Marrow Transplant, and Recovery
That is the day I began my blood cancer education, in particular as it pertained to acute lymphocytic (also known as lymphoblastic) leukemia (ALL). It was determined a few days later that I had adult ALL. ALL is the most common form of blood cancer found in children and today has a cure rate of about 90.8% for children five and younger, per the National Cancer Institute. Long-term survivor statistics aren’t quite so rosy, about 66%, when factoring in all ages. I am seven years post-bone marrow transplant and consider myself quite fortunate.
Blood cancers include leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, and myeloproliferative diseases. Within each of these cancers there are several variations.
Over the next month I will be posting information about blood cancers that the reader may find useful. I am an Advocacy Network and First Connection Volunteer and speaker for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancers. The organization’s mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. The LLS is a terrific resource for patients, caregivers and health care professionals.
A list of additional national cancer charities and foundations can be found on the Resource4Leukemia site.