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Time for Treatment

Posted by Frederick Wasti
Mar 06 2012

I was diagnosed with having Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) during the summer of 2010.

I was not having any "leukemia symptoms" at the time - rather, an MRI scan of my left hip (investigating the hip joint's status for an eventual hip replacement) showed some enlarged lymph nodes that the radiologist reported on. A moderately rising white blood cell count confirmed that I likely had leukemia.

As I will explain in later entries, CLL is a bit unusual in a number of ways. One is that treatment to combat it does not usually begin immediately, unlike with most cancers. It has been known for some time now that early intervention for CLL does not prolong life. Instead, the strategy for the first "treatment" for CLL is to do nothing at all, which is known as "Watchful Waiting" or "Watch and Wait" (or maybe "Watch and Worry"). Then, later on, when symptoms become more pronounced and/or a person's health starts to be compromised, a treatment regimen will finally be begun.

My period of "Watch and Wait" went on for about a year-and-a-half. During this time the principal symptom I felt was an increasing level of exhaustion. However, within my bloodstream, my bone marrow, and my lymph nodes and spleen, a battle was slowly taking place. My aberrant lymphocytes had been gradually supplanting and overwhelming my normal lymphocytes, and my neutrophils, now crowded out by rampaging neutrophils, were in a free fall. (I will discuss blood cell types in a later post.)

My hematologist/oncologist at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Hannah Yamin, said it was now time to start treatment. I scheduled an appointment with my "other" hematologist/oncologist, David Fisher (who had previously offered his second opinion thoughts when I was first diagnosed), at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, to discuss my treatment options.

My appointment with Dr. Fisher is scheduled for today, 3/6/12.

Categories: Leukemia