Deb was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia after developing a fever with cough and tiredness. He was treated with 5 courses of chemotherapy, intrathecal (spinal) chemotherapy and an allogenic stem cell transplant. He is in remission.
Deb came to the UK on business for a few months but during this time he developed a cough and fever and felt tired. His GP suspected a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics. With no improvement after five days Deb returned to the GP who gave him another antibiotic and ordered a chest x-ray. Deb was still not improving so he went to Accident & Emergency. They admitted him and did blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy. He was then told he had leukaemia.
A Hickman line was inserted and treatment started the next day as any delay would have been life-threatening. Deb had four courses of chemotherapy with periods at home in between. One day he woke up at home to find his jaw had gone limp and he couldn’t speak properly or keep his food in his mouth and he lost his sense of balance. He went to the hospital where they discovered that the leukaemia had spread to his cerebrospinal fluid. He was given additional chemotherapy into his spine, which caused him a great deal of pain.
A bone marrow transplant was then suggested and one of Deb’s brothers was found to be a match and came over from India to donate his stem cells. The transplant was delayed while Deb had to have a fifth course of chemotherapy. Deb had found the side effects of chemotherapy worse with each successive course so this fifth one was very difficult to tolerate. He was very sick and couldn’t eat or sleep. His temperature went so high he had to be cooled down in an ice bath. He also developed a severe abdominal pain due to constipation. The transplant then went ahead, preceded by high dose chemotherapy and total body irradiation. After a month he was allowed home. He was very weak but slowly recovered his strength with the help of physiotherapy. He began working from home and later returned to his workplace full time. Deb is grateful that his employer continued to pay his full salary throughout his illness.
Deb and his wife received a lot of help from colleagues and the local community in looking after their children but eventually decided the children would be better off living with Deb’s parents in India, where they have remained so as not to further disrupt their schooling. Deb is not allowed to travel to India until his immune system has matured sufficiently for him to withstand vaccinations against tropical diseases.