You have a leukemia, and it can be cured.
In the years since those frightening first words, I’ve come to realize just how amazingly lucky I am that I got the exact kind of leukemia I did at the exact time I did. That I am alive today is due partially to the work of these heroic people:
1. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society have been raising funds for the research, treatment, and eventual cures of all kinds of blood cancers, including CML, AML, CLL, ALL, and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hats off to you, my friends, and to all of you who have participated in their varied fundraising efforts.
2. Dr. Brian Drucker. The year I was born, he began his quest to provide a cure for CML. The blood cancer was the only malignancy at that point whose exact cause was known – the philadelphia chromosome. CML starts when normal chromosome tips break off and rearrange themselves, forming the philadelphia chromosome. Gleevec trials began in the early 1990’s. Now it is the most common practice for CML treatment, radically changing patients’ prognosis from a 3-5 yr expectancy, to, well, we don’t really know. Because of people like Dr. Drucker, who sacrificed much of his life for the development of this drug, I am able to live a relatively normal life. Recently I have switched to Gleevec’s second-generation drug, Sprycel, whose side effects are even more manageable than its predecessor’s. Charlie Rose interviews Dr. Drucker and other experts on this kind of cancer treatment here.
We all owe a great deal to those who have put their lives on hold to help us live ours. Many, many thanks.