The Patient Story
Leesa received an unexpected cancer diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) after a routine physical. She was put on 'watch and wait' for a decade before starting treatment due to worsening symptoms. These included fatigue, dizziness, infections and ocular disease. Leesa was put on ibrutinib and later switched to zanubrutinib. Now, 14 years after diagnosis, Leesa reflects on her journey and making the most of the time she has.
When Jeff started experiencing fatigue and night sweats, he didn’t expect to be diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Jeff’s story includes undergoing watch and wait, joining a clinical trial, reaching remission and going back on watch and wait. Along the way, Jeff learned some important lessons that he shares with us: getting a second opinion, cutting out unimportant things and finding humor in all situations.
When Lynn received his small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) diagnosis in 2013, he felt like he had lost his future. Lynn saw a specialist at MD Anderson for treatment options. He is a strong proponent of seeing a specialist, especially after being a caregiver for his son when he was diagnosed with cancer in 1977. A decade after diagnosis, Lynn reflects on his first symptoms, treatment and side effects, and living life with a glass half-full mindset.
Andrew was a healthy runner with a wife and two young kids when a surprise cancer diagnosis changed his life: chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). He was diagnosed with CLL in 1996. Then in 2011, he was diagnosed with a second cancer: myelofibrosis. He recounts learning and processing his diagnoses, connecting with other patients through online communities and in-person lunches and benefitting from 2 different clinical trials.
Esther took a vow to her husband, Andrew, to support him in sickness and in health. Then 10 years into their relationship, Esther was suddenly faced with fulfilling that vow as a young wife and mother two kids. She stuck by Andrew as a care partner when he was suddenly diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Esther reflects on their relationship, the importance of taking care of oneself in order to take care of others, and processing all the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis.
Renata was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+ ALL) shortly after finding out that she was pregnant. She shares how tricky it was to be undergoing treatment while carrying their first child, giving birth via emergency C-section and now waiting for her stem cell transplant.
Stephanie was surprised when abnormal blood tests led to a diagnosis of stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Stephanie’s journey includes a year and a half of watch and wait, a clinical trial and hyper-CVAD chemotherapy. Through all this, she learned the importance of asking questions and celebrating the little things.
Pete was diagnosed with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) at 43. It is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and is rare cancer that begins in the white blood cells. He shares the importance of educating yourself about your disease, communicating with your disease community, getting a good support system, improving your quality of life, and being your own advocate.
Kelsey was diagnosed with stage 2A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at a young age. She shares her story of going through chemotherapy, why she decided not to freeze her eggs and how important it is to speak up and advocate for yourself. She also shares how getting into fashion and style and discovering comedy helped her at a time when she felt like she was losing her identity.
Emmanuel was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 24. After having his symptoms initially dismissed, he was finally able to find a doctor who told him to do a biopsy. He shares his experience with relapse, doing chemotherapy twice, undergoing a stem cell transplant and how his “go go go” attitude and positive mindset helped him.
He had no symptoms and he wouldn’t have found out at an early stage if not for a guardian angel of a doctor who decided to include the PSA test in his regular blood work. Now, Mical uses his voice and his story to advocate for prostate cancer awareness, especially in the black community, conversations about family health history, and the importance of early screening.