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!
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Erika's Center Moves South, May Impact Florida East Coast

FYI followers (8/27 update:)


Courtesy Channel6000News Broward Editorial

Erika's Center Moves South, May Impact Florida East Coast

(Sedena Xiou) Miami, FL - Weather models have been updated this afternoon, and it looks like I was wrong in my prediction of Erika's path yesterday. Erika's center jogged to the south earlier today. It has also started turning northwestward later than predicted. The majority of forecast models or "spaghetti" models now show the storm hugging the Florida east coast then turning north near Jacksonville. As far as strength, she is expected to be a category one hurricane while impacting Florida. How much stronger or weaker she becomes depends on how much she survives the harsh environment of land interaction and wind shear in the Caribbean. She is expected to encounter more land now that the center has jogged southward. Even though Erika is slightly better organized now, it is still very possible this storm could dissipate like Danny recently did. The latest observation shows Erika 175 miles west of Guadeloupe still a weak tropical storm with winds of 45 mph. She is moving west-northwest at 15 mph, and this is expected to continue until Saturday afternoon when it will begin moving northwest. If it survives the shear and land interaction in the Caribbean, which is doubtful, The National Hurricane Center expects it to become a hurricane by Sunday night. Bryce Coulson, an expert from the National Weather Service, is still confident that the storm will not survive its brutal treck through the Caribbean.

"Because the storm's center moved south, it will be moving over the mountainous areas of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. This is almost a death blow to a tropical cyclone" says Coulson. "However, since the storm is moving quickly, it could still survive as a weak low when it approaches the Bahamas. Conditions there are very favorable for tropical development, and it could redevelop into a tropical storm or even a hurricane."

"It's not going to be a catastrophic storm even if it does redevelop," Coulson adds. "Erika will continue to move very quickly, so there will not be enough time for it to develop into a major hurricane. Also, since the storm is modeled to stay off the Florida east coast, the worst of the storm will remain offshore. There will still be some storm surge, possible tornadoes, and strong sustained winds as far inland as the Orlando and Jacksonville metro areas. So, at the very least, people in eastern Florida, the Georgia coast, and the Carolina coasts need to stay updated with this storm, stock up on supplies and gas, and have a plan of action prepared, now."

Stay with Channel6000News for the latest updates on Erika and follow Sedena Xiou on Twitter.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Survival is Gaining National Attention

I am thrilled to know that several national (and one world) 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.  Someone surviving these complications is unheard of, especially when they have a poor immune system. Also, they are interested in the fact that I achieved remission so quickly and maintained it for the course of my treatment. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is one of the most aggressive and hard to treat cancers in existence. These agencies (The Mayo Clinic, National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization) want to research my treatment history and my current health status. Also, there is a particular abnormality of one of my body functions that they are very interested in. They won't give me details about it because they want it kept confidential. Let's just say it's a BIG deal. I won't go into specifics right now, but it's safe to say that I may be part of some breakthrough medical research!

Follow my blog and check back for updates.

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.  Due to recent incidents, I believe the deterioration has 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 and fludarabine and busulfan during the conditioning chemo I went through during my transplant. There will definitely be consequences from receiving all this chemo that I will, no doubt, experience soon. Again, I will stress that you do not 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 have 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:

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. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Extreme Florida Weather

Going through the stored pictures on my computer, I found this screen pic I made off the National Weather Service website on January 10, 2010 when I checked the weather forecast that day. Just thought it was neat and wanted to post it. Picture courtesy of National Weather Service...

Right click and "open in new tab" to enlarge.