Leukemia Stories | Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

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
Leukemia Stories: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)  | Evan Lessler

Evan Lessler, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



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

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
Leukemia Stories: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), B-Cell, PH- | Veronica Balanza

Veronica Balanza, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)




1st symptoms: Mild shortness of breath and palpitations
Treatment: Chemo, targeted therapy, double cord transplant
Leukemia Stories: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), T-Cell, Relapse | Christine Mills

Christine Mills, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



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

Ciara Toth, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



Cancer details: Treatment without blood tranfusions
1st symptoms: Fatigue, shortness of breath, night sweats, petechiae
Treatment: Chemotherapy
Leukemia Stories: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), Treated as Childhood Leukemia | William Yank

William Yank, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue, achey hands
Treatment: Chemotherapy, CAR T-Cell therapy
Leukemia Stories: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) | Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)



1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue, easily bruised
Treatment: Chemo pills, chemotherapy, spinal taps, total body radiation, bone marrow transplant

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.

Leukemia Stories: Acute Myeloid  Leukemia (AML)  | Sasha Tanori

Sasha Tanori, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)



1st symptoms: Easily bruised and swollen, painful hip
Treatment: 4 chemo infusions, bone marrow transplant
Leukemia Stories: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), FLT3 Mutation | Luisa Lyons

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
Leukemia Stories: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Acute Monocytic Leukemia, AML M5 | Hayley Atella

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
Leukemia Stories: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) | Nicole Tomaino

Nicole Tomaino, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)



1st symptoms: Severe itchiness, night sweats, fatigue
Treatment: Chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant
Leukemia Stories: Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Relapse, Clinical Trial | 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
Leukemia Story: Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL) | Leslie Tysseling

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 Roy

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) Stories, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma| Tony Donk

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 Stories: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) | The Patient Story

Lacey Buchorn, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)




1st symptoms: Extreme fatigue and elevated WBCs
Treatment: FCR chemo and Venetoclax+R
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Stories: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Clinical Trial | Sean Roberts

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

Lymphoma, Leukemia, Myeloma Doctor, Hematologist Oncologist: Dr. Babis Andreadis | The Patient Story

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
Myeloma Doctor, James Berenson, Oncologist | The Patient Story

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
CLL Doctor (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) Dr. Jacqueline Barrientos, Oncologist

Dr. Jacqueline Barrientos, M.D.



Role: Hematologist, researcher
Focus: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), lymphoma, 17p Deletion (Ibrutinib, Acalabrutinib, Venetoclax), IgHV mutation
Provider: Northwell Health (NYC)
Hematologist-Oncologist, Dr. Edmund Tai: Multicultural Patients | The Patient Story

Dr. Edmund Tai, M.D.



Role: General oncologist, hematologist
Focus: Specialist in treating Chinese-speaking patients
Provider: Sutter Health (Bay Area, CA)
Myeloma Expert, Hematologist-Oncologist, Clinical Trials: Dr. Rafael Fonseca | The Patient Story

Dr. Rafael Fonseca, M.D.



Role: Consultant, Division of Hematology/Oncology; Dept. Chair, Internal Medicine; professor of medicine

Focus: Myeloma; defining sub-type distinctions | Clinical Trials, Selinexor, Darzalex
Provider: Mayo Clinic
Myeloma Doctor, Hematologist-Oncologist, Clinical Trials: Dr. Irene Ghobrial | The Patient Story

Dr. Irene Ghobrial, MD



Role: Clinical investigator and professor of hematological oncology
Focus: Multiple myeloma, Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia, early screening, clinical trials
Provider:Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston)
CLL/SLL Specialist – CAR T, Acalabrutinib, Ibrutinib, Idelalisib, Venetoclax: Dr. Tim Fenske

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
Cancer Clinical Trials, CAR T-Cell Therapy, Bone Marrow Transplants, GVHD | Dr. David Miklos

Dr. David Miklos



Role: Chief of BMT & Cell Therapy, Clinical Director of immunotherapy program
Focus: Blood cancers (lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma), CAR T-cell therapy, blood and marrow transplantation
Provider: Stanford Medical