On January 29, just little more than a month after graduating college and weeks after starting a new job, I was sitting in the emergency room waiting to see what was going on. I left work early that day with excruciating pain on the left side of my stomach. While waiting to be called to a room, the thought of cancer never even crossed my mind. I then found out my white blood cell count was at 385,000 when the normal range is 4,000 - 10,000 and the words “leukemia” were said. I felt numb. I had no idea what was to come from this. I didn’t even know what leukemia was, no one in my family had ever had it. After a bone marrow biopsy and days in the hospital, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. I was ready to take on the fight.
After being diagnosed, I was started on 400mg of Imatinib but my white blood cells had increased to 427,000 at my next doctor visit. My oncologists decided to put me on a stronger dose and start me on Hydroxyurea. After about a week of taking that, my white blood cells went down to 0.3 and my hemoglobin and platelets were dangerously low as well. I was admitted to the hospital for a second time and received countless blood/platelet transfusions and multiple neulasta and nuepogen shots. Following a rough few days, my counts started to stabilize. I was released from the hospital and put back on the 400mg of Imatinib daily.
After a few rough months, everything has been pretty stable and I can only hope and pray it stays that way. I’m back to living a semi normal life with just a few adjustments now. I am so grateful for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society because with their fundraising and research, especially for oral chemotherapy, gives people with cancer, like me, a chance to live a semi normal life. I participated in my first Light The Night Walk this past October, and it was truly an amazing experience. I was overwhelmed with emotion to see how many people have been affected by blood cancers. The love and support from so many different people is an indescribable feeling. I look forward to getting more involved with LLS and making Light The Night a yearly tradition because I know we can create a world without blood cancers.