I lost my 20 yr old son Joe to suicide in November last year, a terrible shock to us all and I knew from the moment the policewoman told me, that life would never be the same.
Somehow as a family we got through the following months and then in April 2021 I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukhemia with the Philadelphia cromazone.
We had been walking in Derbyshire the previous week and I noticed some bruising on my lower legs. I thought I had just been extra clumsy. When we returned home we had planned a longed for get together on the Saturday with my daughters, their husbands and my grandchildren. This was our first time to be together following lockdown and since we had lost Joe.
My daughters all commented on my bruising and insisted I should get it checked. I had convinced myself that it was a side effect of the Astra Zeneca vaccine I had recently had. On the Sunday morning as I got out of the shower I tapped my elbow on the shower screen and a dark red bruise appeared. I decided this was a bit a odd and took myself off the a&e to get it checked, leaving my partner cooking Sunday lunch.
After waiting for a while to be seen, it was at last my turn to be assessed. I explained that I had recently had the vaccine and that I had noticed this bruising. I was fit and well otherwise. They took some history and bloods and left me to ponder what was happening. I was sending texts to my family not to worry, I am sure I would be home soon.
I was told about 9pm that I would be staying in for more tests as my blood had shown up something. During the night I was transferred to an Oncology ward and I think I realised then that this might be more serious than I thought. I was seen first thing on the Monday by a registrar who said he wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy. I had no idea what this entailed but agreed anyway. I was still going on about the vaccine to him and asked did he think there was a link? He said not and told me then that he suspected a blood cancer which the biopsy would confirm. I was pretty stunned and started googling blood cancer. I had no knowledge of this and wanted to understand what this might mean for me. I remember being so sad telling my partner and my girls what was suspected. After all, hadn’t we all been through enough.
Due to COVID I was allowed no visitors.
Later that day the registrar returned with the news that it was Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia but that it was very treatable. I asked it I could FaceTime my partner as I knew I was not taking in all this new information . We FaceTimed my partner and the registrar told him what they had found and agreed for my partner to visit straight away. The registrar hung around so that he could meet with me and my partner and explain what was to happen. I was so grateful to him for that. The hospital also agreed for my daughters to visit so that we could explain to them what was going on. I think the hospital made allowances as they were aware that we were also grieving for my son.
I was started on steroids and chemo that same week as an inpatient and then allowed home. I still felt absolutely fine.
It was strange telling friends and family and I felt kind of embarrassed. They had supported us through the loss of Joe and been such a constant source of support to us all. It felt strange now having to explain I had cancer.
I am on the UKALL14 protocol and about to start my last block of chemo before a stem cell transplant. I feel like my life has been turned upside down during the last 8 months and nothing feels the same. I am having my transplant at Addenbrookes under Dr Charles Crawley, who I have met and am told is fantastic. I have had wonderful care from the lovely oncology nurses and have been lucky so far that I have not had too many problems with the chemo drugs.
I understand that they are looking for a 10/10 match for me and they have some potentials they are working on.
I am just trying to stay positive with my lovely partner and family and trying to do everything I am told my the hospital.
I am not looking forward to the transplant or the recovery but I am looking forward to next year and getting back to some kind of normal life.