APL and Me

Last updated: January 2019

I was 72 when my ride began. In Oct 2014, I had just moved from Florida to Southern California. I was getting settled in and thought my fatigue was due to age and the move. I had found a family physician and I saw him every 4 months and had lab work done at that time. At my January 2015 appointment, there was a grave face looking at me. My white count was 700. The lab stated that they had called several times to notify them but they were put on hold and forgotten.

I was now about 1 month in with fatigue and that lab sitting in my folder at the office. I was referred to hematology-oncology. There was about a 3-week wait for the appointment between transcribing my phone number wrong and availability. Finally, I had an appointment and my bone marrow biopsy. At 8 AM the following Monday, the oncologist called and said I needed to be admitted right away and only 2 facilities in my area treated the confirmed diagnosis of APL! To quote the oncologist, "Time is of the essence!".

Beating the odds

I was headed into my 3rd month of symptoms and the stats are death after 3 months of symptoms. I chose the City of Hope and was given an appointment for the next day. I was admitted and in the hospital for 6 weeks. I got an extra week due to some complications. Then I stayed in the COH Village for 5 more months. I got my chemo every day in the hospital and 5 days a week while in the Village. My chemo was arsenic IV. I was on an oral med for another 6 months. The treatment does not result in what we think of as chemo side effects.

The worst part was the first night when my body objected a bit! I am now in remission and off of all meds. I am still being followed by COH every 6 months as of December 2019. I am (my blood) in a research study as I had 5FU in 1991 for colon/rectal cancer. Now, my only problem is old age. I would like to take this time to sing the praises of COH and thank them from the depths of my heart. My experience with them made the journey more of a short road trip!

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