Leukemia Stories | What is Leukemia? Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

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Leukemia Stories
Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What is leukemia? Leukemia is a broad term for cancers of the blood cells, most often occurring in adults over 55, but also a common cancer in children under 15. The type of leukemia depends on the type of blood cell that becomes cancer and whether it grows quickly or slowly. (NCI)

Explore below for stories from real patients about their journey battling Leukemia – from symptoms, to diagnosis, to treatment.


Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

  • Common symptoms: Fatigue, weakness, drenching night sweats, fever, easy bleeding or bruising, shortness of breath, loss of appetite or weight loss, bone or stomach pain, pain or feeling of fullness below ribs, painless lumps in neck, underarm, stomach, groin, lots of infections
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)  | Evan’s Story

Evan Lessler, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue, easily bruised
Treatment: Chemo infusions, chemo pills, spinal taps, cranial radiation
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | Casey’s Story

Casey Head, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)




1st symptoms:
Lump on throat, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, bruising easily
Treatment:
Chemo, immunotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | Veronica’s Story

Veronica Balanza, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)




1st symptoms: Mild shortness of breath and palpitations
Treatment: Chemo, targeted therapy, double cord transplant
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | Christine’s Story

Christine Mills, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



1st symptoms: Enlarged lymph nodes, pain in abdomen, nausea
Treatment: Chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | Ciara’s Story

Ciara Toth, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



Cancer details: Treatment without blood tranfusions
1st symptoms: Fatigue, shortness of breath, night sweats, petechiae
Treatment: Chemotherapy
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | William’s Story

William Yank, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue, achey hands
Treatment: Chemotherapy, CAR T-Cell therapy

Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

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Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a cancer in which the bone marrow makes immature white blood cells, known as myeloblasts. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults.

Acute Myeloid  Leukemia (AML)  | Sasha’s Story

Sasha Tanori, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)



1st symptoms: Easily bruised and swollen, painful hip
Treatment: 4 chemo infusions, bone marrow transplant
Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Flit 3 Mutation | Luisa’s Story

Luisa Lyons, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)



Cancer details: Most common type of acute leukemia in adults
1st symptoms: Painful hives on legs & migraines
Treatment: 3 cycles of chemo, total body radiation & stem cell transplant
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), M5 | Hayley’s Story

Hayley Atella, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), M5



Cancer details: Most common type of acute leukemia in adults
1st symptoms: Severe fatigue and excessive bleeding after oral surgery
Treatment: Chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) | Nicole’s Story

Nicole Tomaino, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)



1st symptoms: Severe itchiness, night sweats, fatigue
Treatment: Chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): Mary Clare Bietila

Mary Clare Bietila, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)



Cancer details: Relapsed but in remission after 2nd transplant
1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue, upset stomach, bad & persistent headaches
Treatment: Chemotherapy, radiation, 2 bone marrow transplants
Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) | Leslie’s Story

Leslie Tysseling, Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)



Cancer details:A sub-type of AML
1st symptoms:Fatigue, joint paint, migraines, bruising easily, trouble breathing
Treatment:Chemotherapy (Atra & arsenic)
Leukemia Stories: Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) | McKenzie’s Story

McKenzie Roy, Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL)




1st symptoms: Repeat sinus infections, abnormally heavy menstrual cycle
Treatment: Chemotherapy (ATRA oral pill & Arsenic trioxide infusions)

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

A cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (also called CLL) is a blood and bone marrow disease and usually progresses slowly as opposed to acute leukemias. It is the most common type of chronic leukemia in adults.

More on CLL:

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) | Tony’s Story

Tony Donk, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)



Cancer details: ~25% of new cases of leukemia, also classified as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (slow-growing)
1st Symptoms: Lump in back of neck that got bigger in a couple weeks
Treatment: Chemo pill (Imbruvica), takes 3 pills a night
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) | Lacey’s Story

Lacey Buchorn, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)




1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue and elevated WBCs
Treatment: FCR chemo and Venetoclax+R
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) | Sean’s Story

Sean Roberts, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)



1st symptoms: No apparent symptoms; went to ER for unrelated shoulder pain
Treatment: Clinical trial, Ibrutinib & Venetoclax

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)

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Blood Cancer Oncologists & Experts

Leukemia, Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma Specialist, Blood Cancer Hematologist Oncologist | Dr. Babis Andreadis

Dr. Babis Andreadis, Blood Cancer Specialist



Oncologist: Specializing in blood cancers like lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma
Experience: 20+ years
Hospital/clinic size: Large teaching institution
Ask An Oncologist: Multiple Myeloma | Dr. James Berenson, M.D.

Dr. James Berenson, Multiple Myeloma Specialist



Oncologist: Specializing in myeloma and other blood and bone disorders
Experience: 35+ years
Hospital/clinic size: Large private practice
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Specialist | Dr. Barrientos

Dr. Jacqueline Barrientos, CLL Specialist



Oncologist: Specializing in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) | 17p Deletion (Ibrutinib, Acalabrutinib, Venetoclax), IgHV mutation
Experience: ~15 years
Hospital/clinic size: Large institution
Myeloma Specialist | Dr. Rafael Fonseca, M.D. | Basics, Clinical Trials, Selinexor, Darzalex

Dr. Rafael Fonseca, Myeloma Specialist



Hematologist: Specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of myeloma; defining sub-type distinctions | Clinical Trials, Selinexor, Darzalex
Experience: 25+ years
Hospital/clinic size: Large institution
Ask A Multiple Myeloma Hematologist-Oncologist: MGUS, Smolder Myeloma, Early Screening, Clinical Trials | Dr. Irene Ghobrial, M.D.

Dr. Irene Ghobrial, Blood Cancer Oncologist



Oncologist: Clinical investigator and professor of hematological oncology | MGUS, Smolder Myeloma, Early Screening, Clinical Trials
Experience: ~15 years
Hospital/clinic size: Large institution
Ask A CLL/SLL Specialist – CAR T, Acalabrutinib, Ibrutinib, Idelalisib, Venetoclax | Dr. Tim Fenske, M.D., M.S.

Dr. Tim Fenske, Leukemia & Lymphoma Specialist



Oncologist: Specializing in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) & other leukemia and lymphoma | CAR T, Acalabrutinib, Ibrutinib, Idelalisib, Venetoclax
Experience: ~15 years
Hospital/clinic size: Mid-sized institution