T-cell ALL survivor since November 2008. Allogeneic stem cell transplant survivor since June 2010. Leukemia can be successfully treated. Keep your hope and faith!
Welcome to my blog. Please navigate to this page to go to the beginning and read my story:

To browse my blog more easily scroll down to the "Blog Archive" at the bottom right of the page or click on any topic under "Labels"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

When You Think There Are No More Good People In This World, Read This Post...

With all the bad news stories popping up every day and all of the bad things people are doing, you may briefly think that there are no good people left in the world. It's natural. We tend to let our anger and frustration briefly blind us to the fact that THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. When this happens, God will always put something and someone in your life when you least expect it, and there is nothing more like seeing good deeds that people do to you to open your eyes to see there is still good in this world!

A very unusual thing happened to me today. First, I will say that I ran out of gas on my way home from church today. In all the twelve years I've owned my vehicle, I have never ran out of gas. My vehicle and I are virtually one! I know every noise it's supposed to make, I know how it drives, and I know when it's fixing to run out of gas. Or, at least I thought I did. I have made it to gas stations with the gas gauge a hair below the E. Today, however, I left church with the gauge slightly over E and thought I would make it to the gas station. Two minutes later I ran out of gas, the engine shut off, and I got stranded on the side of the road. I thought I was in big trouble because I was in an area with very weak or nonexistent cell phone coverage. I then would have had to walk in 90 degree plus heat through a bad neighborhood to the nearest gas station, which was NOT close. A couple of minutes later, a good samaritan pulled up and offered to tow me to the gas station. I gladly accepted with tons of gratefulness. He was a Christian.

A few days ago, I was getting into a mindset that people don't care about each other anymore because of all the bad things I read about and see. God corrected me and got me out of that mindset today. The bad news stories that are out seemingly all the time paint a bleak picture of what evil there is in the world today. But, God reminds us that evil will never prevail. There will always be kind, caring people in this world, like the good samaritan that towed me to the gas station, who are part of that reminder. Don't give up hope!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Survival is Gaining National Attention

Updated 9/1/15 for corrections:

I am thrilled to know that several national agencies are interested in my battle with leukemia. One aspect they are most interested in is that I survived a serious infection with MRSA and a pulmonary embolism during my chemo treatments. A person surviving these complications is unheard of, especially when they have a poor immune system. In addition, they are interested in the fact that I achieved remission so quickly and maintained it for the course of my treatment. Finally, and this could be very significant in leukemia research, I took prednisone, for respiratory treatment, before I was diagnosed in 2009. This could have been a big part of my recovery because prednisone is considered chemotherapy. I was fighting the cancer before I was even diagnosed! Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is one of the most aggressive and hard to treat cancers in existence. These agencies (including the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control) will be looking at my treatment history and my current health status to add to their research. My ordeal could be very important for future cancer research.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Major Update

Scroll down to the "THE LONG JOURNEY IS OVER" post for the official notice of cure that I received today!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Leukemia survivor? You need to read this

 Updated 5/30/15:

Now that I am cured, it's time for me to shift focus to long-term effects of my treatment. I have written several posts about the possible side effects of leukemia treatment. If you've read them, forgotten about them, or simply said to yourself  "not going to happen to me", etc., then you need to read this post. There are consequences, either minor or major, of being cured of leukemia. From what I've read on the internet and some credible websites, I've found out that I have a high chance of facing a life-threatening health complication within ten years. In addition, I've determined that I have a 60% chance of getting acute myeloid leukemia, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer. Note that I put "and" in that sentence, not and/or. I have a 60% chance of getting all three cancers together.

Another concern is that I have a moderate risk of dying from a major heart attack before I turn 50. The two reasons for this is the doxyrubicin and daunorubicin chemo given to me during my Hyper-CVAD treatments and the fact that I have periodontal disease and tooth decay. This is unique to my situation meaning it will probably not happen to anyone else, so don't automatically think this applies to you. However, the material I read indicates that all leukemia survivors have a higher risk of cardiovascular problems.

There is more, and this is the most serious. Because I had sixteen intrathecal treatments (spinal taps and chemo injections into my central nervous system), because I had numerous Vincristine treatments, and because I had brain scarring from getting MRSA in my cranial port, I have a moderate risk of serious cumulative brain and nerve dysfunction.  In simpler words, I'm at risk of having serious mental problems in the future including, but not limited to, memory problems, loss of motor controls, and behavioral issues. Due to recent incidents, I believe the effects have started.

All of this is pretty scary to me but not surprising. During my treatment, I was basically poisoned everywhere in my body. I was given massive amounts of the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, doxyrubicin, daunorubicin, and methotrexate during my seven cycles of Hyper-CVAD treatment. I was also given more chemo, fludarabine and busulfan, during the conditioning chemo of my bone marrow transplant. There will definitely be consequences from receiving all of this chemo that I will, no doubt, experience soon. Again, I will stress that you don't automatically presume that all of this applies to you and all leukemia survivors. You just need to be aware of your health and take care of yourself!

Get regular checkups, see your cancer doctor at least once a year, and get any strange health issues addressed immediately. Also, pray and make the most of everyday!

I've been very fortunate to survive my ordeal and live this long to tell about it. However, I seriously believe that I am going to face a major health issue as early as five years from now.  My interpretation of being cured is that you never get back to a normal life (as if nothing ever happened,) and a cure only extends life a decade or two. So, I need to cherish every day, tell as many people about my story that I can, and live life to the fullest more than ever. I am also prepared and confident that the consequences of being cured of my leukemia will not allow me to live a full and normal life. I'll be blunt: I'm 41 years old, and I'm not expecting to live past 55. If I do, it will just add to my incredible survival story. If I don't, then I will be with the Lord sooner. Both outcomes seem pretty good to me.

This government article complements the reason I wrote this post. It's an article on childhood ALL which is very similar to my ALL:

This article is interesting as well:


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Purpose of My Survival

There is no doubt in my mind that God cured me in order for me to fulfill a great purpose(s).

Last Wednesday, I witnessed a lost soul get saved at an outreach event we have one Wednesday a month, McSpirit Night at McDonalds. It's always a great joy to see a person come to know Christ and get saved.  God has a will in everything. Our church decided to start participating in McSpirit Night to get out of the church and into the community to tell people about Christ. God has blessed us and others with this. It has proven fruitful, and I hope we get many more people saved as our church continues to participate in this event.

Today I am excited to post that I reached out to two people about Christ. First, a needy individual visited our church and requested some assistance. We talked and during that conversation, I presented the gospel to him. He didn't really want to tell me whether he accepted Christ or not, and, to not be pushy, I left it at that. I planted the seed, and I was pleased that this opportunity came to me.

Later that day during a Mother's Day visit, I spoke to my grandmother about my battle with leukemia. We got into discussing how I was comforted during my ordeal. I told her it was because that I'm saved, and I knew whatever the outcome I would get to heaven. I asked if she knew Christ and was saved. Her answer was yes. It made me so happy to hear this because in the past I wasn't sure if she was.

These opportunities that God provides are a blessing. If I didn't survive my leukemia, I would not have been part of these experiences. The needy individual, if not saved, probably would have never heard about Christ and be condemned to hell.  Since I am still alive and healthy, I know more opportunities like these will come, and I can't wait for them.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


UPDATE: As of 7/27/15, Moffitt Cancer Center has officially declared me cured of leukemia. It's finally official!

I'M CURED!!!!!!!!! It is now exactly five years since I finished my first chemo treatment and achieved complete remission, all thanks to God! The leukemia failed to return, so according to all the medical texts I've read, I'm cured! My transplant anniversary is on June 9th of next year making it five years since that procedure. Some say that the five-year mark goes by the transplant anniversary, but I think it's more accurate to mark the anniversary from first remission. I'm posting the blog entry I wrote five years ago as a memorial to the rough two months I had in the hospital to achieve this remission. Even though my doctor did not declare me in remission after my first treatment, the blood tests I received all came back negative for leukemia. Therefore, remission was actually achieved.

If this doesn't leave you in awe, I don't know what will: I was on death's doorstep two times (the MRSA and pulmonary embolism both occurring while my immune system was poor.) A leukemia patient surviving something like this is a very rare occurrence. This shows you how blessed I am!

First and Second chemo treatments (March 5 to April 30, 2009)

My treatments involve intense doses of Hyper C-Vad chemotherapy. Because of this intensity, I require sterile conditions and careful monitoring. The type of chemo I receive is destructive not only to leukemia cells, but also to normal, healthy blood cells. These cells get destroyed to a point that I had to have blood and platelet transfusions to maintain body health. When chemo is this intense, you can not get it by outpatient. You have to be in the hospital. In order to make chemo and other IV infusions more comfortable, I had a central venuous catheter installed in my right upper arm. The catheter remains there for the duration of the treatment and allows IV tubes to be attached without getting constant needle sticks in the veins. This is known as a PICC line, and it is a blessing! I also had to get several X-rays and CT scans of my head, neck, and abdomen which is standard for my condition. Next, I got a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy to confirm my diagnosis. This went fairly well with very little pain. They even did it in my room. ALL treatment requires not only chemotherapy to the blood and bone marrow, but also to the spinal fluid (intrathecal chemo) because it is possible for the leukemia to spread to the body's central nervous system. In order for spinal fluid chemo to be administered, you've got to get injections into the spinal canal in the lower back (known as a lumbar puncture or spinal tap), or you have to get a reservoir (known as an Ommaya reservoir) surgically implanted under the scalp that "pumps" the chemo into the spinal fluid near the brain. I opted to get the reservoir implanted because my neurosurgeon said it would be a more painless and safer method of intrathecal therapy. There would be less chance of infection, also. I had the reservoir for a few days, then complications developed. The reservoir shifted in position and I required surgery to realign it. During this surgery, the reservoir contracted the common hospital infection known as MRSA, a staph infection that's very hard to eradicate. One night in my hospital room, I developed a very high fever and became delirious and confused. I was rushed down to intensive care, the reservoir was removed with local anesthesia. There was no time to get to the operating room, so the surgery had to be done in my ICU room. I thought I had recovered and was sent back to my regular room the next day. There was another complication, the MRSA formed an abscess on the surface of my brain, where the Ommaya reservoir catheter entered the spinal fluid. This abscess caused me to lose some motor function in my left arm and leg. I had to get physical therapy for about two weeks to regain full motor control. It was successful, I was using my left arm and walking normally within a month of the infection. I did not realize how serious this "bump in the road" was until I talked to the doctors, nurses, and my family about this incident. I have no complete memory of the night that the MRSA attacked, just bits and pieces of activities, so it must have caused some type of amnesia. I constantly thank God that this incident did not get as worse as it did. If it was not caught as early as it was, I could have easily died. The abscess was diagnosed as Staph Meningitis which can be fatal.

The MRSA incident forced me to stay in the hospital much longer than I was supposed to. So, I had to start my second chemo treatment without going home for a break. I was still being treated for the MRSA abscess and was getting heavy doses of Vancomycin, a very powerful antibiotic. Between the heavy doses of chemo and vanco, I did get pretty sick one or two times. I got high fevers with nausea and lack of appetite. Fortunately, it did not last long thanks to all the "rescue" medicines the hospital gave me. I had to get another intrathecal treatment as well. This time it had to be administered through the spine. I was pretty nervous about this because I did not know how painful a spinal tap would be. I was worrying over nothing. It went well with very little pain. The procedure was performed in Radiology with precision similar to a surgery. The injection area is numbed well and the needle used for the tap is small and less painful. Before the chemo was injected, they withdrew a sample of spinal fluid to look for leukemia cells. I was blessed to find out that the fluid was clean with no leukemia present. The chemo brought my blood counts down pretty low, so I had to start getting blood and platelet transfusions. I was apprehensive about getting these transfusions. I have never gotten a transfusion in my life and was concerned that the blood could be tainted. I was told that the blood and platelets are carefully screened and irradiated, so the chance of getting a pathogen like HIV or Hepatitis was extremely rare. I got the transfusions with no major incidents except for a minor allergic reaction to the platelets, which was hives. Benadryl took care of this reaction quickly. It didn't take much time for my blood counts to come back up to a safe level, and I was discharged from the hospital on April 30. I still had to take Vancomycin through an IV so that the MRSA abscess could be completely eliminated, therefore I had to make arrangements for home infusion. I took home IV equipment for gravity infusion, and it went fairly well. By fairly well, I meant that I did make a mistake. It was time for an infusion of vanco. I went to get a bag of the medicine, and I picked up a bag of sodium chloride instead. I hooked up everything and started the infusion. About ten minutes later, I saw an extra bag of vanco in the refrigerator and realized I goofed. Oh well, no harm was done and I even got some extra hydration. The next week and a half flew by, and I had to go back to the hospital on May 11. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Birthday and A Major Milestone In My Life

Today, I have reached the biggest milestone I have ever approached. I have lived to reach 40 years old! I survived one of the deadliest cancers a person can get. I can only give God credit for reaching this milestone, and I don't deserve it. I will be even more grateful when I reach another big age: 50. I will be at risk for other health problems and cancers for the rest of my life, so if I make it to 50, I will only praise Him more. I thank God everyday for my blessings, not the least of which is being able to get out of bed every morning. Every day of the year should be Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving should not focus on turkey or the pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock!