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Patient perspective: Vickie’s story

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Vickie

I was first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) when I was 21 weeks pregnant, three days before my son’s birthday. 

I had a routine blood check at my doctors because of the pregnancy.  After I’d got home, I had about four phone calls from my doctor telling me to go straight to the hospital. I eventually went to the hospital with my husband.

As I sat there with my husband holding hands, there was a doctor and a nurse in the room. The doctor said I have some bad news for you, ‘you have chronic myeloid leukaemia ’. I didn’t know what that was so I asked if it was cancer, when he said yes words cannot describe how I felt.

My immediate thought was that I cannot leave my three-year-old son…I haven’t seen him grow yet. My husband squeezed my hand to say I’m here for you.

But, after that, the doctor was talking but I just couldn’t hear him. Everything went into a dark tunnel within my brain. I couldn’t think and after another blood test to double check I had CML, I went home. I phoned my parents first and I didn’t know how to tell them but I just had to. 

For the first few months I was on leukopherisis as I couldn’t take any medication due to being pregnant. The doctors didn’t want me to have my child due to the medication not being taken. I refused and had my daughter as I already knew I was having a baby girl; it didn’t seem right.

I had two bone marrow biopsies, lots of blood tests and lots of scans to make sure my baby was ok. I lived more at the hospital than I did at home. I’d put my symptoms down to being pregnant. I was out of breath, exhausted, hurting all over, bruising easily and I couldn’t walk very far. It was nightmare!

 As I became bigger in my pregnancy I could no longer go through with the leukopherisis so, I stopped and had a planned cesarean four weeks prior to my delivery date. I had my daughter and was sterilised at the same time so I cannot have any more children. 

After the birth of my child, I was put on glivec imatinib about six weeks after, the side effects were awful but I stuck it out, I had no choice I have two kids I have to be strong for and of course, my husband.

Six years on, I’m still taking imatinib, still experiencing side effects but, having said that, I’m alive, my children are healthy. It has been an experience and I still have a long journey to go through, but I always try to remain positive.

Don’t miss Vickie’s next ‘Patient perspective’ where she shares her advice for telling your loved ones about your diagnosis.

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