A Story of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia – Cancer Stories of Hope #CANSA90
By Richard Caddy:
My employer used to send me for an annual medical checkup, and after I retired I continued with this practice. In 2002, after my checkup, I was advised to see my GP, as my white cell count was a bit high. He sent me to an oncologist, who arranged for a pathologist to do a bone marrow biopsy and analysis. This showed that I had chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He also said that, if I had to have a form of cancer, this would be the one to choose, as the average life expectancy was twelve to fifteen years after diagnosis.
Naturally this discovery was a shock to me and my family. We had a long session with the oncologist, as we had many questions to ask. He was very patient, and gave us more than an hour of his time. He said that we should start with treatment, and I began with a course of chemotherapy tablets, which were fairly mild.
The oncology department arranged a course called “Hope and Cope”, which was attended by the patients on therapy and their families. An oncologist, a social worker, a dietician, and a sister from the treatment room all gave talks, and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. I also consulted the oncology dietician, who analysed my eating habits and recommended a dietary regime. I adopted this, and still practice healthy eating habits, which I consider to be vital to recovery and continued good health.
I subsequently went on to different chemotherapy treatments, and my condition was stable. Once biological therapies became available, my condition improved until in 2010 I needed no further treatment. I continued to have six-monthly checkups, and now go once a year for a blood test and consultation with the oncologist.
I am now in good health after nineteen years with the condition.
What are the important factors in the treatment and recovery?
In my opinion, a positive attitude to getting on with life, a holistic lifestyle, including eating recommended healthy food, as little stress as possible, and support from your family.