Blood tests for another condition revealed low neutrophil counts, which led to a diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome but he was later told he had leukaemia. He was treated with 4 cycles of various chemotherapies and is in remission.
Brian went to the GP about a raised tendon in his hand and had blood tests done, which showed that his neutrophil count was low. When he asked what was the worst possible cause of it he was told leukaemia. The blood test was repeated and he was referred to a specialist. He had tests done over a six month period and was eventually told he had a type of myelodysplastic syndrome called refractory anaemia with ring sideroblasts, which carried a small chance of transforming into leukaemia and was only curable by a bone marrow transplant. He was too old to have a full transplant but could have a mini transplant ideally from a sibling donor. He spoke to his sister and they both went for tests at which point he found that his neutrophil count had dropped even lower.
After a few weeks he had a bone marrow biopsy and a blood transfusion and was told he had acute myeloid leukaemia. He found it difficult to understand that he could have such a serious illness as throughout the period of investigations he had felt completely well and had been living a normal life.
He started on a course of chemotherapies at a specialist hospital. He had his own ensuite room to minimise the risk of infection and was treated as an inpatient. He had four cycles of chemotherapy administered via a Hickman line, each scheduled to last 4 weeks. His blood counts recovered very well from the first cycle but were slow to recover from the other ones causing the following cycle to be delayed. He was able to attend his grandson’s christening after the 1st cycle, had to miss an important party during the 4thbut was delighted to be able to attend and take a full part in his daughter’s wedding after completion of treatment. Side effects included mouth ulcers, nausea and vomiting and hair loss. He developed pneumonia during the 1st cycle of treatment and the hospital superbug C. diff. during the 3rd cycle.
He is in remission but is unclear as to whether he did or did not have MDS before the leukaemia or whether he still has MDS. He also wonders what could have caused his illness. He feels anxious about check-ups in case there is any bad news. He talks of positive outcomes of his illness such as new hobbies, closer friendships and family relationships. He is looking for new challenges in life.