She was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia after developing tiredness, aches and pains and weight loss. She was treated with interferon then moved to Glivec (imatinib). Her disease is stable but she regrets that treatment has caused infertility.
She began to feel very tired and sleepy with aches and pains and was also losing weight rapidly, all of which made her everyday activities a struggle. She went to her GP, who took a blood sample and phoned within 24 hours and asked her to return to the surgery for the results, where she was told that she had (chronic myeloid) leukaemia. She was admitted to hospital where they first removed her excess white blood cells then treated her with interferon and some other drugs. She remained on interferon for some years and initially was scared of injecting herself so her husband did this until she summoned the courage to do it herself.
A few months later one of her consultants thought her CML was progressing from the chronic to the accelerated stage and that a bone marrow transplant was needed. All of her siblings and cousins were tested but none were a close enough match to be a donor so it would have to be an autologous transplant. Meanwhile, she travelled to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York at her own expense to obtain a second opinion, which was that her disease had not progressed so a transplant was not necessary.
In 2000 she was one of the first batch of patients who were entered onto a trial of a new drug called Glivec, and she has remained on this drug ever since. Having become used to having to carry the interferon injection kit with her wherever she went, she found taking one pill of Glivec per day much more convenient. She had been unaware of any side effects of the interferon while taking it but as soon as she switched to Glivec she realised how much better she felt.
At the time of diagnosis she had been married for less than a year so her newly married life unusually became dominated by hospital visits and treatments. A few months after diagnosis she decided to give up work in order to concentrate her energies on getting better. She returned to a part-time administrative post about eighteen months later. When she was told that her disease was under control she felt better able to plan her life and decided to return to full time education to do a masters degree and begin a professional career.
When she was diagnosed she was given the opportunity of freezing some embryos before starting treatment that would affect her fertility. However, at the time she and her husband did not take up this offer, preferring to concentrate on treating the leukaemia, a decision that she now regrets. It may not be impossible for her to conceive a child now but she would have to stop taking her Glivec in order to do so, placing herself at risk of recurrence, plus research evidence suggests that any resulting fetus may not be entirely healthy.