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My Leukemia

My real life Leukemia story

It was the end of January 1994, when I started to feel unwell. I had this pain in my right shoulder, which went to my breastbone like an electric shock. At first I thought it was a heart attack, but when the pain persisted I went to see the doctor about it. He assured me that it wasn't my heart, after putting me on the heart machine for a couple of days.

I was still having these pains & I found that I couldn't vacuum the lounge-room in one go & had to sit down for a few minutes before I could carry on. I also noticed that I couldn't check the mail box without stopping for a breather. Then I started to have these feeling faint symptoms, just getting out of bed or doing the dishes, preparing tea & I would have to sit on the floor. It was at this stage that the doctor put me into hospital to give me a thorough check up, doing this x-ray or that test, and still they didn't know what was wrong. I even had to go by ambulance to Ballarat for special tests.

This went on until May, when it was decided to send me to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. I had the same tests that I had had previously. After I had so many tests the doctor said that as he hadn't found anything wrong with me, I could go home. He also said that there was one test to have, but I could have that done anytime. I asked what that test was, he replied "A bone marrow biopsy". I asked why they couldn't do it there and then, to which he replied "Well, we could do it if you want to".

The next day I went & had the biopsy. When the doctor came around he said "We have found out what is wrong with you". So I said "Thank God for that". He then said that it wasn't good news, and I had Acute Myloid Leukemia (A.M.L.) I was taken straight to the Chemo-therapy ward, then they explained what was going to happen to me. I got very frightened by all of this. It was even hard to tell my daughter & daughter-in-law. My husband, Les, was on his way down from Hamilton to Melbourne, Vicki (our daughter-in-law) had to break the news to him. He was very upset when he came into the hospital that evening. My eldest daughter, Sandra, also came into the hospital. It was explained exactly what was going to be done, the nurses showed him the Hickman catheter and showed him where it was going to be put. This catheter was used to put the Chemo & other medication, which saved me having to have a lot of needles to take blood samples etc. That evening I went to theatre to have the catheter inserted into my right breast, the tube went into the main blood vessel. I went into remission during that first lot of Chemo. I was in the R.M.H. for about six weeks.

I took a turn one day when I was trying to wheel the drip stand, & was put into Intensive Care. I stayed in Intensive care for 3 days. I don't know what happened, I didn't know what day it was or even the time, I didn't even realize that my husband was there with me for a lot of the time. He was beside me every day until I recovered & was able to go back to Ward 3.

My next visit was to have the stem cells taken. I was then allowed home. In August of 1994 I had to go to the Essendon Hospital to have the bone marrow taken. This had to be cleaned & frozen so that when I had to go back into the R.M.H. for the transplant, it was all ready for me. After I came home at the end of August from having the Bone Marrow taken, my mother passed away 3 days later. I felt this was the last straw, as I had to do the funeral arrangements. I managed to cope in doing this. At the end of November, I had to go into the hospital for the transplant. My husband, Les, went and stayed at Vicki's for 3 months, we had taken the camper-trailer down for him to sleep in.

Every day Les came into the hospital to visit me, he was there from morning till night. Whilst in the hospital the doctors & nurses were very caring, they told me that I had to think positive all the time & not give in. Les said that if I could get over this he would take me to Tasmania. I thought positive all the way through & for the next 12 months I was getting stronger & stronger.

In the year of 1996 we were given the O.K. to go to Tasmania. We toured that beautiful place for 2 1/2 months in our little camper-trailer.

It will be 6 years on the 30 November since I had my transplant. I did make friend's whilst in hospital, unfortunately they are no longer with us. I am one of the LUCKY ones. I give my thanks to a wonderful and caring husband and family, for the support they gave me, and I have now got 3 great grandchildren.

Doctor Andrew Grigg rang me in 1966 to say that I had to have all the baby injections for Polio, PedvaxHib, M.M.R.& Diphtheria/tetanus. The reason they found out about the baby injections was because of the high dosage of Chemotherapy, to kill all the good & bad cells, some of the patients had got one or more of the childhood disease's which meant that I could measles, mumps, chicken pox, & German measles (Rubella) all over again. I had all of these things twice when I was little, except for the German measles (Rubella) which I got the first time when I was pregnant, the next time was when the children had them. In 1999 I had to have a new hip put in, the Chemotherapy had caused my bones to become brittle.


My thanks go to the Royal Melbourne doctors
DR J SZER.....
DR A BOYD.....
DR G GOSS.....
BMT Service

Also a very special thank you to the nurses:
Amanda.....Julie.....Anna.....Kelly.....Annmaree & Cherylyn and to all the other nurses whose names I can't remember, they were all superb!
A big thank you to my husband Les for all his care & support during my illness. Also thanks to my family for being there when I needed them.


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