April 12/Day One: APL? AML? How do you spell leukemia?

Posted on April 15, 2012. Filed under: Cancer | Tags: , , |

Enter the parade of medical professionals. WhooHoo. To confirm the diagnosis, they needed a bone marrow biopsy. BoooHooo. They also collected a zillion vials of blood while informing me that they would put in a “pic-line” so they could administer chemo and extract all my diseased blood without poking me with needles. Eeeewww. But that could wait.

Since the day before, my platelet levels had dropped to 10,000. Below that, there’s risk of spontaneous bleeding, which can lead to a bloody mess that just might kill you.  So, they transfused a bag of platelets, donated by some good soul. Thank you, stranger. The platelets were golden, in more ways than one, and looked somewhat gooey.

Meanwhile, Scott and I googled the possible suspects and side effects.  APL  was suspected, which is very aggressive. Life expectancy without treatment is 30 days. I was nearing that since the onset of symptoms. With treatment, there’s a 80 to 90 percent success rate. The other type was more complex.

In the hematologist/oncologist came in discussed the upcoming bone marrow test and said the leukemia was likely caused by the radiation treatment I’d had for breast cancer some years earlier. He returned a few hours later to jam something that felt like a screwdriver into my innocent hip bone. Supposedly, they use something to numb the area, but I relied on everything I’d learned in Lamaze training to get through it. Breathe in. Breathe out. Not fun. Luckily, it didn’t last more than a few minutes, but the rest of the day felt like I was sitting on a case of misplaced hemorrhoids. That, and the platelets, were very memorable.

The nurse oncologist also met with me and said they’d start oral chemo drugs, which help either type. Then Sunday, we’d start regular chemo. I could expect to lose my hair, which is really a bummer since I finally got a half-way decent cut!

This was when I started living in a “bubble.” No fresh fruit and veggies. Only cooked. No flowers. So I asked Scott to bring me paints. I will paint some. The walls here need new art anyway. The prints are all sun bleached.

In the evening, Scott, Christy, Veronica, Brendon, her boyfriend and Pedro all gathered and we actually had a few laughs. After they left, I took a long-awaited shower with the help of Yurie, the Russian nurse who knows martial arts. I told him I was feeling scummy and he said, “Why do you think we wear these masks? It’s the smell!” He has a sense of humor. I love it. Before I went to sleep they confirmed type APL.


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3 Responses to “April 12/Day One: APL? AML? How do you spell leukemia?”

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Wow, so sorry to hear this! Sending lots of prayers and positive thoughts your way! Hugs

Hi Emily,
I am Chris’ friend from Amsterdam, originally from New York. Chris sent me the link for your blog and I figured if you write half as well as he does, it ought to be a great read, and boy do you write well! I can already tell you I am going to be following your blog every day. I wish you a speedy recovery, but until then I will be at your side, along with all the others.

Love you Emily!
(that’s all I got)

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    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..


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