Jim was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after feeling tired on exertion. He spent 35 days in hospital having intensive chemotherapy followed by outpatient chemotherapy. He is in remission but his treatment will continue for another 2.5 years.
Jim started feeling tired on doing physical activity and assumed he was unfit. Then he wondered if he had a perforated lung. He went to his GP who sent him for a blood test. He returned to the hospital the next day for more tests. He was told he had leukaemia and would be kept in and moved to a specialist centre as soon as a bed became available. He was allowed home to pick up some belongings where he told his girlfriend the diagnosis.
In the specialist centre Jim was told his precursor B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia required immediate chemotherapy. He was invited to bank his sperm as the treatment could make him infertile. This meant leaving the sterility of the leukaemia ward to a nearby hospital where he feared contracting an infection. He was asked to return a second time to bank some more sperm but collapsed from stress on the way and returned to his room. He later discovered that he could have produced a sperm sample in his room to be delivered to the other hospital, which he would have preferred.
The same day Jim had a PICC line inserted in his arm for administering chemotherapy, which remained in place for six months before the entry site became inflamed so the line was removed. He tolerated his first course of chemotherapy well but the steroids made him bloated and hungry. The choice of hospital food was limited but after speaking to the caterers he was given extra options, plus his mother and girlfriend, who stayed in the hospital with him, brought in food. Jim found that intrathecal (spinal) chemotherapy gave him severe headaches, which were not alleviated by painkillers, only by lying flat, until this was prevented by using a smaller needle. Just as Jim was leaving hospital after a 35 day stay he had a dystonic reaction to the anti-sickness medication he had been taking, affecting the muscles of his tongue. Once swapped onto a different drug this stopped.
Jim found it took time to adjust to life at home again after such a long hospital stay, and also to being treated in the day care centre, where he has been treated ever since with a combination of intravenous, intrathecal and oral chemotherapy. Jim is in remission but his treatment will continue for another two and a half years.