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Joining the CML Club

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

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By Claire Ashmore


How did I find out I had chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)?

Well most of us go to our GP, but in my case it was a visit to A&E and I came home with a new addition; leukaemia. I discovered I had this damn little annoying chromosome in my body when a good friend of mine, who used to be a charge nurse back in the day, insisted I go to A&E. After telling my friend I could see a black dot in my eye, he suggested it was apparently a possible sign of a torn retina. So after some serious nagging from him, I went to A&E and after being examined I was told I had high blood pressure but not to worry and so I left with an appointment for the eye clinic for the next day.

After some poking around in my eyes, the Doctor said the blood vessels behind my eyes had all burst and didn’t know why, so she sent me off for some blood tests, well when I say some, I mean 13! Not long after I got home I received that call and was told to come back to hospital with an overnight bag as they had found abnormal blood cells. As you can imagine, I was now really worried. Off to hospital I went and once I settled on to the ward, the Doctor came to see me and told me I had leukaemia but, until further tests they wouldn’t be able to confirm which type. It definitely was not what I was expecting to hear after going in for an eye check up.

How did I feel after being told that news?

Well I felt happy as the last two years I had felt terrible and decided that I could either get on with my life and enjoy every minute of it with my son James, who is about to turn 14, my family and my best buddies or, I could sit on the sofa at home and dwell on it. The latter to me was definitely NOT an option. I love life and always have, I’ve always been a positive person so I wasn’t about to let some stupid chromosome change my life.

So what are the high points so far of this long journey that we have to endure?

Well for one, all the lovely Junior Doctors that came to examine my massive spleen whilst I was in hospital, friends and family really being there for you every step of the way, but the best thing of all is being able to run again without getting injured and getting my energy back. Pre-diagnosis I struggled to walk, let alone run and my GP put it down to sports induced asthma and the night sweats down to pre-menopause, how wrong where they!

Now for the low points, well for me the only low points are the dreaded side effects from those damned drugs that keep us alive…oh and of course the bone marrow biopsies. Through these biopsies, I’ve discovered I have strong bones; not what you really want when the Consultant is trying to shove a great big needle at brute force into your hip bone.

If you’re a newbie to CML, then welcome to the club, obviously not a club I’d choose to join, but like my Consultant said, if you want any cancer, this is the best cancer to have. I’m not sure any cancer is what anyone wants, but I know what she meant and once you’re in the club you appreciate how good life really is and realise how you can never take anything for granted. So my stance on CML is, don’t worry about those pesky chromosomes that we have in our body causing our white blood cells to party like it’s 1999…just keep taking your medication and love your life and don’t forget to live it!

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