Saturday, February 8, 2014

Third Year Cancer-versary: Questions Answered

I have never been one of those people that remember the date, and often the time, of events. I remember the event, just not necessarily when it happened. I am, not really sure why that is, but maybe it is because I am so focused on living in the here and now, that committing dates and times to my memory bank is not high on my priority list. During a special moment in time, I become so immersed in what is going on, that I never ever really think about when it is happening.

My cancer diagnosis is a little bit different; I not only remember the date, I remember precisely where I was standing and exactly what was said. I remember answering my phone and hearing Dr. Han say, “Michele? This is Dr. Han, and I do not know how to tell you this, but you have leukemia. I have arranged for an oncologist to meet you at the emergency room and you need to get there as quickly as possible.”

Of course, after this statement there were many questions and a lengthy conversation, but I will never forget that moment, or that date. I believe that the reason I remember the actual date was because I had had a doctor’s appointment the day before, on the 7th of February, and on the 8th, I was in the hospital, with “February 8th” written everywhere; I had to sign papers and date them, and the date was posted on everything from IV bags to white boards. This date was emblazoned on my brain.

That date, three years ago, was a day full of unknowns; Was I going to die? If so, when? What is leukemia? Will they be able to treat it? How will I tell my children? How will I tell Joe? Will Joe leave me? How can I even accept the fact that I may not see my grandchildren grow up? Will I need a bone marrow transplant? Will there be a match? Will I always be sick? Will I lose my hair? When will I be able to dance again? And the Biggest question of all was, “What am I going to do?”

Well, three years down the road I have answers to all of my questions; Yes, some day I am going to die. When? Only God has that answer. Leukemia is a blood cancer with many different types; mine is rare, it is chronic and never goes away. Yes, they are now able to treat it, although 15-ish years ago, that was not the case. I told my oldest child on the phone, and Facebook did the rest; not a “good thing.” I called Joe and he was by my side within three hours; he is still here. My oldest grandchild just turned eleven, and the youngest will be three in May. Someday I may need a bone marrow transplant, but for now, my miracle drug is doing its’ job. Hopefully there will be a match, if I need one.

I will always have leukemia, but I won't always be sick; side effects can be brutal, but it beats the alternative. Much of my hair fell out, but it was temporary. Eight weeks after lying in a hospital bed, I was back on the dance floor competing. Talk about stubborn and not wanting to let cancer get the best of me!

And now for the biggest question of all, “What am I going to do?” Well, I am going to do whatever I want! I am going to continue loving my family and enjoying my life. I will continue to research the newest, latest and greatest advances for leukemia, and I will continue to dance my way through this disease.

I am also contemplating taking the advice from so many, and revamping this blog into a more user friendly book. I have been encouraged to do this for several years, but I did not feel as though I had enough history, and understanding of this disease to do so, until now. I feel as though I finally have a very clearing understanding of exactly what “Dancing My Way Through Leukemia” means, and I plan on doing just so; for many decades to come.

My journey began with a white blood count of 384,000 and my previous two PCR tests have been negative.

Cheers to me and my three year cancer-versay!

This video is 8 weeks after I was released from the hospital!


  1. Hi Michele! I have just discovered your blog today and I can't wait to read the rest of it. I am a CML caregiver. My loverman was diagnosed in November 2013 with a WBC count of 412,000! He will have his first molecular DNA testing this month! We are hopeful that his treatment is working and the results will give him the positive outlook boost that he needs. Thank you for this blog. You should totally write a book. I am a self published author myself and would be happy to answer any questions that you have! Like I say to everyone since my hubs was diagnosed... Cancer is our new awesome. When you must live with it for the rest of your life, you need to make the best of it and never let it get the best of you. <3 I look forward to laughing and sharing with you!

  2. Thanks, Tanya! I would definitely recommended reading the beginning of my blog; it has TONS of info!
    I look forward to sharing with you as well!

  3. Just wanted to say thank you for your informative and encouraging blog. I was just diagnosed with CML the first of the year, and have just started on Sprycel 01/16/2014.
    I will definitely be following your journey and am so happy you have received positive results. Your optimism is contagious. Thank you again.

  4. Thanks you for reading! I hope that I can be of some help!
    Here is a blog post with many important links:
    Wishing you well,

  5. Hi Michele, found your blog while searching for answers. I have all the symptoms except the little red skin bumps unless I'm just missing them. At 54 everything can be rationalized as just being 54 especially the night sweats. Finally went to the doctor yesterday. The ache all over feeling and fatigue is becoming alarming. Yesterday at the grocery store, I sat in my car for several minutes because I was just too tired to get out. Doctor sent me immediately for blood work. I'm hoping to hear today. If tests are positive, you'll be hearing from me!

    1. Here is a list of my symptoms:

  6. Hi Leslie,
    Hopefully you get good news from your doctor. We are the same age, so I understand what you mean!
    Please keep me posted,

  7. Turns out symptoms were just being 54! Other than a sinus infection and some signs of arthritis, everything else was ok. Bloodwork was fine. I'm on Plavix ( explains the bruises). I guess the night sweats are age too. I was ready for whatever news I got. I bought cancer insurance years ago so I was ready in that regard too.

    I wish you the best. Thanks for all the information. You have a great attitude. I'm not surprised Joe stayed. Hope you continue to do well!


Bricks for the Brave!!