It’s a mouthful isn’t it? And that’s what I was diagnosed with. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL for short.
It’s, as the one of the consultants here put it, “not a cold or a flu. It’s a very, very nasty, dangerous disease.” What I have specifically, is the Precursor B-Type (going all medical here). Generally, it’s either the T cells or B cells that have gone bonkers. In my case, it’s the B cells. There’s not much difference in the treatment or prognosis, and it largely depends on who you ask. Doctors here reckon that stats don’t matter, and it’s the individual patient who beats this, no matter what it is.
According to Cancer Research UK, 297,991 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Of that, about 1.5% are diagnosed with Leukemia (simple maths, nearly 4500). And, ALL is one of the least common adult Leukemias, roughly 650 cases a year. It’s actually more common, and more treatable in children between the ages of 1 – 10. It’s like I’ve won the reverse lottery! Ha!
The good news (relatively speaking) is that I am negative for the Philadelphia chromosome (9,22), which is very nasty, untreatable and has a very bad prognosis.
The scariest thing about ALL is that it has no clear symptoms. And if left untreated, it can be fatal in weeks. It was purely due to the Grace of God (and a persistent wife, who harassed me constantly to see the doctor) that I was diagnosed before I got really sick.
Some of the known symptoms of ALL are:
- General fatigue and tiredness
- Unexplained infections and illness
- Unexplained bleeding
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Night sweats
The symptoms are all fairly unassuming and many people tend to dismiss them and continue living their lives. I’ve only had the night sweats, and in hindsight, noticed that I got tired very easily.
But at this point, I am just thankful that we’ve managed to catch this thing early and that I am getting the best treatment I can possibly get. But having had this diagnosis, I think it’s very prudent to be a little bit more paranoid about my health. It’s very fragile and things can just change in an instant, like it did for me.