- Blue Jays announcer, Buck Martinez, returns to the booth after undergoing treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
- CLL progresses slowly, and typically affects older adults; it initially develops from a type of white blood cells called B cells.
- For chronic cases of leukemia, the cells can mature partially, but not fully. And while the cells may look normal, they don’t fight infection as well as normal white blood cells.
In a tweet, broadcast colleague Dan Shulman reported the status of Martinez: “It all went as well as it possibly could and they (Martinez and his wife Arlene) are heading home now to begin rehab and recovery,” Shulman wrote. “Buck is very hopeful he will be able to rejoin us in the booth at some point post All-Star break, as soon as he is feeling strong enough.”
Hey everyone..I get asked nightly during #bluejays games for an update on Buck, so here’s the latest. He and Arlene are thrilled to report he finished treatment yesterday! 💪 It all went as well as it possibly could and they are heading home now to begin rehab and recovery (1/2) pic.twitter.com/LMiTXmKN3nRead More— Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) June 29, 2022
Fans and work friends stay by his side as Martinez pursues recovery. A fan account on Instagram shares a photo and reels in comments from supporters with well wishes.View this post on Instagram
Understanding Martinez’s Diagnosis
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It’s typically slow to progress, and the cancer develops from a type of white blood cell known as B cells.
For leukemia which is chronic, the cells can mature partially, but not fully. And while the cells may look normal, they don’t fight infection as well as normal white blood cells. Leukemia cells also survive longer than normal cells, creating build-up in the bone marrow.
CLL typically affects older adults, and the symptoms can be hard to spot. Symptoms of CLL include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Easy bruising
Treatment options for this disease can include chemotherapy, or stem-cell transplant. Stem-cell transplant is typically reserved for more aggressive cases of CLL.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Nicole Lamanna, a hematologist/oncologist at Columbia University Medical Center, describes the advances that have been made in recent years for the treatment of CLL. She says, “The field of CLL has changed dramatically over the past five years. We’ve literally had three to four new drugs approved, which is remarkable for a rare disease.”
“But that being said, because of these new approvals, it really has confused many physicians of which treatments they should be using,” says Dr. Lamanna. “There might be therapies– depending upon the person’s age and what other medical problems they have, you might be picking certain drugs because of the side effects of these agents, and you may exclude other drugs. So there is not a one-size-fits-all for patients, yet, with CLL.”
Chronic Cancer Diagnoses: How to Cope
A cancer diagnosis that is termed “chronic” means it is ongoing. A cancer diagnosis often changes a person’s life, and a chronic cancer diagnosis, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia, can feel even more impactful. Many people often experience grief, depression, anxiety, and fear, following their cancer diagnosis.
For those coping with grief from a chronic cancer diagnosis, it’s important to honor your feelings; don’t brush them under the rug. Seeking support from a psychologist or oncological social worker may help, too.
In an earlier interview, Dr. Scott Irwin, the Director of Supportive Care Services at Cedars-Sinai, says, “Grief comes in waves. It often gets better over time, but on certain days, it can look like depression. And other days, people look perfectly normal and can function.”
New Treatment Options for CLL
“They’re grieving the change in their life, the future they had imagined is now different,” he explains. “In cancer care, sometimes, we’re actually forcing some body changes that are beyond what would be normal aging, and that can be even harder for people to deal with where they don’t feel like themselves.”