Sunday, August 17, 2008


It's hard to feel lucky when you have cancer, but tonight, I do.

I consider myself "saved" in some ways by my GP. If he hadn't ordered a blood test when he did, who knows how long it would have been before the leukemia had been caught? Instead of catching it in what appears to be the early chronic phase it could have progressed to the accelerated phase... or worse.

A good friend of mine lost his father-in-law to CML just last year. His leukemia was caught because he became so ill, and his spleen so enlarged, that he was airlifted to a major hospital. He succumbed to the disease a few short years later.

I've been occupying myself by reading blogs written by other people with CML. It's strange how eerily similar the stories can be in some cases and how divergent they can be in others.

This poor lady is going through the agony of watching her adult son battle CML. Luckily, her son is responding well to Gleevec. Reading through her blog I couldn't help but think of my own mother. I wouldn't wish her pain on anyone.

This young man from England isn't fairing so well. He was diagnosed with AML early in 2007. AML is the acute form of my cancer. Prognosis isn't good for those unfortunate souls that have it. Worse still, one month later he was diagnosed with CML in addition to his AML. To his knowledge, he's the only one in the world with both types. His name is Adrian and he is currently waiting to die. About 1 month ago he was given a few weeks to live. Reading what he has gone through makes me appreciate the relative innocuousness of my cancer.

It makes me a little angry to read or hear that I have the "good" cancer. To me it sounds ignorant and obtuse. There is no such thing as a "good" cancer. And yet, I wouldn't think twice about describing Adrian's situation as "worse". I guess if his can be "worse", then mine can be "good". Everything is relative, and I think I understand now what people mean when they say CML is the "good" cancer. I get to be at home with my wife, take a pill every night and go about my life as best as my fatigued, lightheaded, couch-riding ass can.

I'm worried that my athletic days are over and I'm deathly afraid that I won't get to have children and grow old with my wife. But I have that chance, and it's a good chance.

Fuck that, a very good chance.


Jon Gershon said...


I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but as someone who has been exactly where you are, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Gleevec is a miracle drug. My advice is to go to Portland and meet with Dr. Druker. It is an unbelievable experience for you and your family, especially in terms of making you more comfortable. This was one of the best decisions I made during this cancer battle. Good luck to you and let me know if you need any help along the way.

Jon Gershon

Anonymous said...

My hematology oncologist told me I was lucky too, at our very first meeting. I think that I would never have met him if I was really lucky. On the other hand, I'm better off than several people I know because I do have Gleevec and so far it's working.

I'm about 6 months ahead of you in treatment and it does get better.
Denise in Santa Clara