Becki Lucas: Why a positive mindset made a difference

Becki was diagnosed with blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN), a leukaemia so rare that there are approximately only 1,000 known cases in Europe. Becki speaks more about her diagnosis and how she kept positive for her two children.

I am a single mum of two; I couldn’t leave my kids. I couldn’t leave them without a parent. So, although there were worrying times, I was determined to try anything that would help. There was no question I was going anywhere, they needed me.

I was diagnosed with BPDCN in April 2022, after strange, bruise-like lesions began to appear on my back a few months prior. My blood tests appeared to be normal and the doctors just did not know what to do with me.

I had caught COVID-19 a month after they began to appear, and the lesions had somewhat tripled on my body. I went to see a private haemato-oncologist because I just didn’t know what was wrong and I felt as if I was getting nowhere with my GP, despite begging for a referral.

After being flipped onto the NHS list, I underwent an extensive bloods, a CT scan and skin biopsy, and the results came back as BPDCN.

I was told there was no targeted treatment for this in the UK, but that the US had an immunotherapy developed that we could get a license for. So, we started the first round which worked fantastic, all until my liver reacted and we were unable to complete it. I completed the second round but the cancer grew, so we changed tactics and I spent six weeks inpatient. We thought the change had worked until it grew back. By this point it was in my skin, lymph nodes, breasts and bone marrow.

So, we were onto the third line of treatment which had been effective in the past. I ended up in ICU with neutropenic sepsis and my kidneys began to fail, but I achieved remission and I was able to spend a few weeks with my kids before the next step.

I went on to have a stem cell transplant from my sister, as this is the only known cure. Recovery is long but I have been enjoying time with my children and family since. 

Throughout my treatment, mindset was hugely important to me. There were times when my thoughts would run away with me, thinking of the possibility of not making it, but I was determined I would because I had two small people relying on me. Because somewhere, amongst the stats and numbers, there had to be a survival stat, so why not me?

I started dabbling into the world of mindfulness; not only did I have to look after my body, but my mental health was a priority too. I read some of Dr Joe Dispenza’s book whilst in treatment about how the way we think can literally change our brains and health, so decided to really give it a try; I had nothing to lose after all.

I had written my Will to prepare for the worst, but I was also doing daily affirmations and gratitude, such as: I am healthy. I am cancer free. I am in remission. I am living a long life getting to see my kids grow up. I am grateful for waking up to see another day. I am grateful for the team looking after me. I am grateful for the treatment. I accept and work with the treatment I am getting. This is just a chapter in my story, not the ending. I love my life. I am safe.

I’d also visualise being able to see my kids grow. I imagined the adventures we’d have and all the stories I could share with them. I made a living list on TikTok and Pinterest of places I wanted to visit, things I would like to do, and have been spending time ticking places off my list.

The nurses would talk with me about how important a positive mindset was, how amazing my nature was and that they’d read about BPDCN as incredibly the hospital ended up with two of us at the same time. Unfortunately, the other patient was a very different case. Of course, I’ve had my wobbles, but my mindset is what has allowed me to bounce back rather than stay down.

What is BPDCN?

Previously known as natural killer (NK) cell leukaemia, BPDCN is a rare cancer of the bone marrow. It can normally begin with generalised skin lesions and may involve other organs in the body before progressing into a leukaemia.

BPDCN is seen mainly in middle-aged and elderly patients; however, it can occur at any age and has been seen in children. It further tends to be three times more common in men than in women.

Being diagnosed with BPDCN can be a shock, particularly if you have never heard of it. Our booklet covers the basics, such as the causes, who it affects and likely treatments. Read the latest information on BPDCN from our booklet here.

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