Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I was going to post a few weeks ago saying that my body has been coming up with new and interesting ways to tell me to rest. I had no idea how true that statement would have been.

I’ve been feeling unwell for the past few weeks. I had a big ulcer on my tongue which stopped me from being able to talk and eat properly.  I thought I was run down. It cleared as ulcers do. Then I realised that through this time I’d actually had a sore neck. While the children were off my hands I popped in to see the doctor, who thought I had a problem with my thyroid, so sent me for a blood test and an ultrasound. That night the doctor rang to say I had to come in first thing in the morning, and if I felt worse to go to hospital. I was thinking I might need to get my thyroid out. When I went in the see the doctor next day everyone in the surgery knew to expect me, and was abuzz that I was there. Not a good sign.

Anyway, it turned out my white cell count (wcc) was 70. The normal range is 4-11. I was given a referral to a Haematologist. I went home and looked online at the words in the referral, and the details of the blood test report. The words that kept coming up were bone marrow, immunology and leukaemia. The specialist is part of the cancer care team. That night I felt worse, so went to hospital. They gave me some fluids and medication and took lots of blood. I saw a member of the Haematology team and organised a bone marrow biopsy to see exactly what is going on and what my treatment will be.

I have Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. It can be treated with medication I can take at home. Untreated, it becomes acute and is fatal. I’ll be taking the treatment. I don’t know yet what the side effects will be, and how I’ll feel. At the moment I’m just very tired, a bit nauseous and short of breath. I hope to feel better soon. I start the treatment next week. Of all the leukaemias to get, this one is the most manageable, with the greatest survival rate. So, I'm feeling pretty lucky. Lucky that I live in 2012, because this cancer can now be treated with designer drugs, and lucky to live in a city so I have access to medical care. We haven't ruled out chemotherapy at this stage, as more test results are being reported.

The timing has been good. Because I had planned to be on prac I had cleared four weeks to do nothing but that. I’ve cancelled prac, so have a few more weeks to just deal with the sickness and try to get better. I’ve enrolled in one unit of study over summer, but can withdraw if I don’t feel I can manage.

Life can change pretty quickly. I’ll be a keeping close watch on my wcc, and seeing a haematologist, for the rest of my life.


Jill in a Box said...

Hi Catherine,
That sounds very stressful, exhausting and traumatic - I am so sorry to hear it. It's great that your condition is treatable. I hope the treatment goes as well as possible. I will be thinking of you.

sister outlaws said...

What shocking news. That is so terrible. I'm glad to read all the positives. You must be feeling so unwell! Hope you have lots of help and people arriving with casseroles.

Margaret said...

Hi Catherine,

Well, I unhappily welcome you to the chronic illness club. With Leukemia you get gold membership. Hope you can get the treatment sorted out asap and get your energy and health back.

Cheers, Margaret.