On September 12, 2012, I decided to make an appointment with my family doctor. I had been experiencing fatigue, which I had already chalked up to traveling to and from a class reunion, a home renovation project, and helping my daughter plan her wedding, which was about six weeks away in Florida. The doctor’s office was able to “work me in” only and I almost canceled, but remembered the odd and rather large bruise I had developed on my abdomen in the last day or so and I decided to go on in. After meeting with my doctor and having routine blood work drawn, he came back and informed me that my platelets were down to 25 K, my hemoglobin was 8, and my white count was off the charts! We talked about any changes in medication recently. I had made a change to my biologic I was taking for my RA just a couple of weeks prior. He sent me to the ER at the University for Medical Sciences to be checked out by a Rheumatologist. What he “didn’t” tell me is that he suspected a serious and life threatening diagnosis!
Once I arrived at UAMS I was told by interns that I would likely be “kept overnight” since rheumatology didn’t normally round in the ER. None of this so far sounded alarming to me. It was later, when I was visited by the on call oncologist that I was told I had some form of leukemia and that I would be in the hospital for the next 30 days! My husband, believing as I did, that this overnight stay was just precautionary, had run home to pack an overnight bag for me. All I could think about was missing my only daughter’s wedding…. and of course, that I might die. Someone earlier on this page likened hearing that you have cancer with being under water, and that is exactly what it was like! Suddenly everything in my life seemed so far away.
During my induction stay, I received many types of high dose chemo, including doxorubicin and methotrexate. I had five chemo infusions to my spine and underwent two bone marrow biopsies. I lost all of my hair after the second week. The care I received by the wonderful nurses and oncology medical staff was amazing. I was discharged five days before my flight to Tampa for my daughter’s wedding. I was weak and exhausted but in remission! It was one of the happiest times of my life, surrounded by family and seeing my daughter united with the love of her life!
During the following five months I was in and out of the hospital multiple times for more high dose chemo treatments. On April first I returned to work full time, and have begun my two year maintenance chemo regimen. It is still a good bit of chemo and it has its unpleasant side effects, but I am a survivor and I know I will continue to fight like a girl and beat this beast! I have way too much living left to do to give in to cancer, and I will win!
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.