A Delayed Diagnosis
- A man named Joel, 30, from Herfordshire, England, was experiencing joint and back pain, and doctors blamed his job. It wound up being leukemia, a type of blood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
- The blood cancer warrior developed sepsis and pancreatitis from the disease and treatment, which is body initially rejected. He kept fighting, and is thankfully now in remission.
- ALL is very aggressive. A person will become very sick within weeks, months. As with any disease, identifying symptoms and catching it early is ideal. If you feel your doctor is dismissing troubling symptoms, keep pushing until you find someone who will listen and get to the bottom of your health condition.
Then the fatigue set in, and Joel started losing weight. Finally, his health team ordered a blood test and MRI.Read More
In the car ride, they heard the traumatizing words from his doctor. “Joel has blood cancer.”
“I will never, ever forget Joel’s face when those words were said,” Amy told HertsLive.
As if he wasn’t suffering enough physically and emotionally, the couple had to wait four hours to be seen.
“During this time Joel caught sepsis,” Amy shared. “He was rushed to intensive care. In 24 hours our world had been turned upside down.”
Thankfully, he was able to go home after a couple days after recovering from sepsis. But then, Joel had to face treatment for his cancer, specifically acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), which affects the white blood cells.
Even more worrisome, Joel’s body rejected the first round of chemotherapy treatment, and he suffered from immediate pancreatitis. He had to go back to intensive care. He was able to continue treatment under much surveillance, and incredulously, he is now in remission.
“We have battled through the toughest of times as a family and Joel has been truly inspiring throughout, showing superhuman strength and amazing levels of bravery,” Amy shared.
The couple is now working with Leukemia UK to help spread awareness about the disease and even educate healthcare professionals on what to look out for, as many times, symptoms can vary greatly with cancer.
Learning More About ALL
In general, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow, but there’s so much more to know about disease.
Dr. Olalekan Oluwole, a hematologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recently sat down with SurvivorNet to talk about ALL, how it affects the body and the type of treatments that work to fight it.
“ALL is a type of cancer that is very aggressive,” Dr. Oluwole told SurvivorNet. “It grows very fast. Within a few weeks, a few months, the person will start to feel very sick. And that’s why we will have to give it an equally aggressive type of treatment to break that cycle.”
He says many times people worry that they might pass the disease on to their children and wonder how they got it in the first place. He says in most causes it’s a quiet mutation that causes the leukemia.
“It is often not something that is heritable,” Dr. Oluwole tells SurvivorNet. “If there happens to be a pattern in a certain family, many times that may be maybe because they were in the same environment. ‘I got exposed to the same thing, right?’ So it is not necessarily something that is heritable or like some of the other cancers, some of the other genes that we know about things like breast cancer—ALL is not like that.”