My Story

I was diagnosed on 1/10/06 with CML leukemia and it was the biggest shock of my life. I was diagnosed with white blood cells at 311,000 (normal range is between 5-10K) and a spleen 5 times the size it should be. At that time I thought there was a chance I could die.

I was immediately put on Gleevec at 400MG. After meting with Dr. Druker in Oregon my Gleevec was increased to 600MG. I never reached a cytogenetic response and was increased to 800MG. As of November 2006 I lost my response to Gleevec and was switched to 140 MG of Sprycel. While on Sprycel I experienced low platelets and low ANC (immune system). I was put on 100MG in March since I was having to take constant breaks from the drug due to low platelets. We had a bone marrow biopsy on June 21, 2007 and 20/20 cells were still PH+ (leukemia cells).

The past 18 months plus have been a roller coaster. I have never experienced fear like I have from this disease. That fear has turned into an acceptance of the disease and knowing that I will survive.

This journey has not been traveled alone. My husband Billy has been there every single step of this with me. There really is no break from cancer and he has never asked for one. He is the only one who physically lives with this cancer everyday and I often think it might be worse for a caregiver. He has risen to each occasion and has brought me laughter, hope, and of course the daily frozen yogurt that seems to comfort me in any situation. I am so lucky to have truly met my soul mate and the person that makes me the happiest and brings out the very best in me. This disease has tested our marriage and our love and we truly are closer and more connected than ever before. You are my angel and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to be with you.

My mother and my brother (Hoagie) who I talk with multiple times a day are my sounding board and support. They have known me for 34 years of my life and have been instrumental through this as well. They have been by my side and I have felt them with me even over 3,000 miles. I love them so much! My mom's frequent trips out West have been highlights since there have been times when I have not been able to travel. The fact that both of them have been in my oncologist's office and have seen that reality is truly being there for a cancer survivor. My sister in law Christine has been a wonderful source of strength as well. My dad has called me after every doctor's appointment or weekly blood test to check in with me and offer his support.

A special thanks to my in laws who have welcomed me into their family and have reached out in ways that are beyond my wildest imagination. I am grateful to have all of them in my life as such forces of laughter and love. Amy and Susie, I am so lucky to have the feeling of being truly connected to such amazing women. My friends and extended family have stuck by me and our friendships have evolved. My lifestyle might have changed but the core foundations of the friendships are as strong and tight as ever. I am grateful for all of your emails, phone calls, and patience as I give each of you mini lectures on blood counts and lab reports.

My on line CML friends, Anjana, Roy, Lottie, Marisol, Dave, and Gill thanks for being there and offering me such wisdom and hope. There are many other CMLers from the Asian CML list that have been so caring and I appreciate you all.

My doctors are an all star team. I wanted the very best care and I have received it. Dear Carolyn, thanks for your patience and encouragement to make me the most informed patient I could be. My doctors have emailed me in the middle of the night and over weekends to answer questions and bring me a sense of peace.

Lastly, my little yellow dog Kimo, thanks for never leaving my side and always making me smile! I can not wait to return to you and begin a "new normal" life with you and your dad in our home (the nest).


John Paul Ditty signed Lea's Guestbook.

Was thinking of yoiu today and happy to see there has not been a post from you in awhile...and i am hoping that means this is all in the past and you are doing ... Read more

shannon nelson signed Lea's Guestbook.

Was just thinking of you today and telling others at church about your story... I see Tom and Minerva at church now that I work in the preschool ministry.  Would love to ... Read more

Carrie Ledden signed Lea's Guestbook.

You never cease to amaze me with your courage, strength and love of life that inspires all of us who know you!  I am truly blessed to have you in my life and know that ... Read more

Janet Perry signed Lea's Guestbook.

Well Lea - what a story...and hearing you tell it all in your own words brings home what a terrible time you have been through. Thank goodness you didn't take that ... Read more

Lisa & Jason Jones signed Lea's Guestbook.

Sending love and prayers your way from NY.  You are such a brave woman; awe-inspiring. xoxo Read more

mark sharp signed Lea's Guestbook.

You are still my hero and one very strong and beautiful woman.We are all behind you.mark s Read more

Susan George signed Lea's Guestbook.

Lea You will NEVER cease to amaze me!  You are an incredible survivor / mom / friend / daughter / spouse and everything else.  Hope this holiday season brings you peace ... Read more

Cedric Barringer signed Lea's Guestbook.

Lea, your support network is amazing, and showed it's true worth the last few months.  I can only imagine how scary this whole experience this whole thing was.  This ... Read more

Wendy Beltrami signed Lea's Guestbook.

What a wonderful family you have!  Don't underestimate the role that your amazing spirit and attitude toward life have played in your recovery as well!Congratulations on ... Read more

Christy Swartz signed Lea's Guestbook.

Dear Lea,What a story. We had heard the news, but to read it in your own words brought tears to my eyes. What a brave, amazing, inspiring lady you are! We think of you ... Read more

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