View Full Version : You've got leukemia...and Thanksgiving

11-22-2012, 05:25 PM
Been putting off this post until today, thinking a few of you I know better might be interested. About six weeks ago I went in and had bone marrow testing, after losing 25lbs in three weeks and having terrible fevers and chills, blood tests showed low white cell counts, so off to the hemo-oncologist I went.

Surely that first visit to the "Cancer Clinic" is one of those momentous days we don't want to see.

But a few days later, the phone call from the doc, and I wheedle the mysteriously jovial Dr Dr (phd, too) out of the diagnosis. It's leukemia. "you knew it was bad". "But this is the best bad news you could have"...er, what?

"You have "hairy cell leukemia". It's a "chronic" not "acute" type." "And it has such a good prognosis it's, for all practical purposes, curable".

And so it just might be. A week of 24/7 not too toxic chemotherapy, not fun, but doable, and another week of being poisoned sick. A week of mysterious rashes, painful odd items, but getting better. Then a week where my blood tests show platelets normal, a healthier liver than I've had in a decade, and a spleen that disappeared by the width of my hand. Pick line out and off all those crummy side effects drugs. Putting on clothes again. Eating three squares. Don't know if I have any bone marrow, so another $5000 shot tomorrow, but otherwise, on the road to feeling better than I have in months. And yes, if you look up hairy cell, there's a darn good chance that this treatment results in remission, one that could last 10-15 years or more.

So, I'm thankful today, quite introspective, as the family goes off to celebrate with all our friends, the way we have for twenty five years or more, and I stay here, post chemo, in the bubble knowing the flu or other infection could kill me, putting words to paper some thoughts.

I'm not cured. Not out of the woods. Not in remission yet. But I'm optimistic. Thinking I'm gonna live a while yet. Wondering what that's going to look like. Knowing, though, that it could all go up with one bad blood test, and this optimistic post could be followed by one from my oldest son telling you I"m not going to see that forty win season.

Fifty nine is early, but not really, as I reflect on the past year, even among us, here. Certainly not too early for this wake up call, although I'd rage against the dying of the light with less "best bad news" diagnosis. Mortality has its disadvantages but a big whiff of what that feels like could be a good wake up. What will be my new year's, er, life's resolutions, if the marrow grows back? I'll keep those private, for now.

And there's a road back but it's harder than it seems. Those 25 lbs was practically every bit of good muscle in shoulders, arms and legs. As they say on TV, "stubborn belly fat" survives everything, apparently, even leukemia. So I'm weak and can't just do treadmill this time. I'll have to do back, abs shoulders and arms. Lotta work ahead.

Then there's what I tell people. I kept my hair. Had a week of chemo, like a treatment for strep throat, and compared to the people I see at the clinic, I'm feeling, well, lucky, blessed, thankful, and reluctant to even have people think I went through anything like they are.

Yet, I have leukemia, and will for the rest of my life. It's a fact. Bottle of hand cleaner in ever pocket, never touching my face, a bit paranoid of lots of people in small spaces, always wondering about my monthly blood test. That's the best case.

So you're thankful this Thanksgiving, I don't care how old you are. And so am I. And I'm grateful for this little community. If you made it this far thanks for your interest. You're one of the people I'm thankful for this year. Even getting a dose of poison every twenty minutes, I could still read your posts.

And argue...

Happy Thanksgiving. See you in Nashville

11-22-2012, 05:48 PM
I am glad to hear from you on this. Could be better but could be a lot worse as well, as I am sure you are fully aware. You have a fighting chance for many more fruitful years on this rock, and you have never shied from a good fight. I will continue to think of you daily friend, so do not let me down and shirk the rehab because the Cats are playing or something else silly like that.:winking0011:

Your presence here is a blessing to this community. Take care of yourself. Happy Thanksgiving!!

11-22-2012, 07:28 PM
Sky, your post certainly took me off guard. And I am saddened to hear about your struggle.none of us is promised tomorrow. As we get caught up in our day to day activities, we often forget that.

May you have the strength and courage to face each challenge. You will have them. But, i am betting, no matter your strength you are a tough enough bird to meet the challenge. Good luck and best wishes.

11-22-2012, 08:11 PM
Sky, that was one elegant and moving post. We're all part of one big, dysfunctional family here and one can tell that you have the fight and will to get through this. From my experiences with family members that have both succumbed to and survived cancer, that's at least half the battle. Time to put yourself first for awhile and take care of yourself. Just remember there will be better days ahead. Good luck!

11-22-2012, 09:28 PM
Sorry to hear of your health issues Sky, but keep thee faith and there could be great Blessings in it for you. One of my friends was diagnosed with Leukemia and given six months to live by his doctor. He operated a starter/alternator shop for a living and continued doing so for around 16 years after the diagnosis, before he finally passed away. I have another friend (best friend in the world), that has been battling cancer for around 12 years and still going. She is a very faithful worker in the Church and huge light to the people of this community. She is the most loved person I have ever been acquainted with. I've never heard anyone say a bad word about her. She just pushes on through the pain and refuses to stop. God has Blessed her greatly even though she has suffered for a long while. I wish everybody could hear her testimony of how good God has been to her. My point is, stay strong and faithful and you may have great things to accomplish before you're through here. God Bless you!

11-22-2012, 10:07 PM
I wish you nothing but the very, very best and a full, complete, and total recovery! May you enjoy happiness and good health for many, many years to come, and I am confident that you will!!
Folks from Mortons Gap have a reputation of being tough and you are one of the toughest!

11-22-2012, 10:32 PM
Jeff, if there is a guy out there that can beat it is you my friend. Battle hard, never give up, tell it you are bigger than it is and you will defeat it no matter what. I watched my wife go thru cancer and she never gave up, never gave in, always was strong and wanted to beat it and she did.
I too have a friend that has leukemia and it was diagnosed on his 50th birthday, he is now 68 and going strong, still fishing when he wants.
You have friends here, you can let us know your feelings whenever you feel like it, any time of day or night and if you need someone to talk to let us know and we will get in some kind of chat with you to pass your time.
We all love you like a brother Jeff, and will do anything we can for you. The best I can do now is pray for you, pray for healing, pray that you will be strong when it is over, pray the daily sickness will not get you down, pray you will be voted in as mayor again and again, pray you will see many SEC tournaments in person, pray you will be a light for God as a testimony for what He can do for you.
Stay strong brother, tell us your daily trials we are all here for you.

11-23-2012, 03:04 AM
Wow, gotta admit that your post kinda threw me off for a second.
Life is sometimes a struggle as it is, without these curve balls being thrown at us. But, as I think back on the posts you've made over the years I also know that you are a fighter, and that you will approach this with intelligence and a will to succeed. And you will succeed in this struggle, of that I have zero doubts.
And if it's okay with you, I will offer up prayers to Him and put you on our prayer list @ Mass in the hope that He will listen to our prayers and make you well again. In the meantime, do what your doctor(s) tell you to do. And keep the faith my friend. God bless you!

11-23-2012, 03:56 AM
Nothing but prayers for you in this trying time.
Sounds like you have a great mindset and are a fighter.
God Bless You, bigsky.

Darrell KSR
11-23-2012, 06:56 AM
Thank you for sharing this with us all. It was said earlier, but we truly are a happy dysfunctional family, and times like this do bring important things to light.

Please know that we are with you in your battles, and here when you need us, and even when you don't. Get better soon; I hope to be able to spend more time with you and your family at a SEC tournament soon!

11-23-2012, 09:05 AM
We're with you, Jeff. Our prayers, too. When you need to lean heavy we got you. Call on us any time.

11-23-2012, 09:10 AM
All the best, Jeff. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

11-23-2012, 11:04 AM
I want to echo the same sentiments in previous posts. I did not expect to read this one. My thoughts and prayers for you and also agree with badrose, anytime you need to talk/vent/yell/laugh, we'll meet you here on the "porch."

11-23-2012, 12:16 PM
God bless you , Jeff. Defiitely sending a prayer your and your families way.

11-26-2012, 11:13 AM
I just saw this post and have to say I'm very saddened to read this, but at the same time I am glad to see that you are dealing with it well. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Nothing hits home like illnesses of this type. Its a struggle to deal with for both you and your family.

If you need anything, just ask!

11-26-2012, 11:52 AM
Bigsky, you have my thoughts and prayers. You'll beat it! In fact, give it a good kick in the butt when you do.

11-26-2012, 05:27 PM
Bigsky, all I know is that we have a God that is bigger than the baddest sickness. Now that you've shared this information with us we can all lift you and your family up as you journey through treatment, recovery, and remission. Looking forward to hearing good things in the future.

11-26-2012, 06:40 PM
Why do bad things happen to good people?

A question I hear an awful lot, but in this case, maybe so others can witness what a good person does in the face of adversity.

You, my brother, are a stellar example.

God Bless You and Yours in this time of battle, because what you are doing is beating this damn disease. Don't let the bastard win.

11-27-2012, 03:47 PM

You are in my prayers. Be strong and get as healthy as you can.

God bless.

11-27-2012, 07:33 PM
How about an update? How's things going?

11-27-2012, 08:28 PM
Got a $5000 shot on last Friday to stimulate bone marrow, and neutraphil production. (Neulasta) My count went from .8 to 12.1. Which is fairly amazing. I remain mildly anemic and physically weak from muscle loss and the cancer/treatment. But I'm going back to work tomorrow. !

Essentially, as I said, my treatment and possibilities are so different and mild compared to most cancer patients that I am embarrassed/conflicted. After three weeks pre-diagnosis where I lost 25 lbs. I had a week of chemo (24/7 pump into my arm) then a week of being sicker, then a week where I had a bad anaphylactic drug reaction and was miserable, turning the color and bumpiness of a raspberry, a week of recovery from both the drugs and the cancer, to today where I'm eating 3 square meals and have gained 3lbs.

Five weeks in all, so far, off work and I'm skinny and wimpy and grew a beard. But my wife told me today I will drive myself to the cancer clinic from now on, which I take as a good sign!

Thanks again to all who read and responded. And to all this community who provide us a quite a bit more than just a place to talk UK sports!

11-27-2012, 08:44 PM
Have you warned the folks at city hall or are you just gonna sneak up on them?:4chsmu1:

11-27-2012, 08:45 PM
Sky gald to hear things are looking good for you. I can relate with you on this. My wife who is 37 has been battling cancer for three years. Things are finally looking up. I will be praying for you, there are things in this life we cant explain them. My god bless you and your family.

11-27-2012, 09:44 PM
But my wife told me today I will drive myself to the cancer clinic from now on, which I take as a good sign!

Those Montana women are a tough breed. lol.

Thanks for the update Jeff and great news.

11-27-2012, 10:18 PM
Jeff great news, keep strong and positive.

11-27-2012, 10:19 PM
true, glad ot hear things are looking better for your wife, we all will keep her in our prayers also.

Sky gald to hear things are looking good for you. I can relate with you on this. My wife who is 37 has been battling cancer for three years. Things are finally looking up. I will be praying for you, there are things in this life we cant explain them. My god bless you and your family.

11-27-2012, 10:26 PM
Sky gald to hear things are looking good for you. I can relate with you on this. My wife who is 37 has been battling cancer for three years. Things are finally looking up. I will be praying for you, there are things in this life we cant explain them. My god bless you and your family.

Will be thinking of you and your wife as I struggle--nothing like hers, but still an understanding of how precious life is.

11-27-2012, 11:20 PM
Glad that things are looking up both for you, bigsky, and for truecatsfan's wife. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. It makes me even more thankful for what I have. Hang in there. I'm praying for you.

11-29-2012, 10:54 AM
Sky, I'm glad to hear you're doing better and that your prognosis is good. Hang in there and know I'm pulling for you.

Truecatsfan, my hopes and prayers are with you and your wife, too.

12-07-2012, 08:23 AM
This post makes me so sad. As some of you may remember my husband Ron (he went by BigRon W on the old board) - was diagnosed with leukemia 10 years ago today. He had Chronic Myelogenous leukemia - and had a bone marrow transplant in August of 2002. We lost Ron December 10, 2003.
Big Sky - I am so sorry to hear you have this - but I am so happy to hear your great prognosis. I will be praying for you and your family. God Bless!

12-07-2012, 08:29 AM
And if you ever want to talk about treatment - I am here for you. I understand all about the $5000 shots. Ron got one a week for almost a year. We had $27000 of out of pocket expenses for medication - after the insurance paid. The financial devastation of illness is almost as bad as the physical decline. As I said - if you ever want to talk - I would be honored.

Darrell KSR
12-07-2012, 08:32 AM
Sky, you're a tough nut to crack, so I am confident you will overcome this. We are all behind ya!

Nikki, happy to see you here. Want to catch up with you later on another thread, but glad to "see" you. Have thought about you guys as my daughter has grown up and is now a NICU nurse and pediatric oncology nurse. She was a pre-teen back in the "BigRonW days."

12-09-2012, 01:52 PM
Of course I remember Big Ron and his years on the board as a great contributor, and his untimely death after a long struggle. So good to hear from you, "uklandrn", and I appreciate your thoughts and offer. Probably will take you up on it at some time. I do have a couple of friends I turn to, one twelve years with leukemia, one a big Duke fan because Duke has put his stage IV brain cancer into stone cold remission. I appreciate the offer because that whole "cancer support group" just isn't me. I had an older woman come by with her "therapy dog" in the middle of a big bag of stuff, and I just could NOT get her to shut up and take the mutt with her. Sheesh! I see you're in love with Montana. Kalispell and the Flathead are great, a bit depressingly gray, but Bozeman is the place for a nurse of your skills to be! I'm thirty five, er, six, um seven, eh, and a half, years here now, although we've moved away for a job now and then. Anyway, all the numbers, red, nutraphils, platelets, are trending in the right direction, a bit of a lag time on the white blood cells that fight off viruses, they were zero for weeks, then .2, now .5, so the trend is good. I'm going to work, and back at being Deputy Mayor and University System Regent...even went to the quarterfinal Bobcat football game, although that was a bit crazy. Still, I needed to make that "I'm still kickin" statement. And you know how it is, live our lives, with all the quality we can muster, counting every good day, week, month as a victory and one step closer to a cure.

12-09-2012, 08:11 PM
Great to hear the numbers are all going the right way. Not sure I could take the touchy-feeling stuff either.

12-10-2012, 03:48 PM
I agree with you BigSky. The touchy feely stuff isn't for me and it wasn't really for Ron either. It was 9 years ago today Ron passed away. I am so glad to hear your numbers are trending in the right direction. And don't forget - anytime you feel like talking I am here.