John was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (a type of acute myeloid leukaemia) after repeated viral infections. He was treated with ATRA (All Trans-Retinoic Acid) and 4 courses of chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial. He is in remission.
John had repeated viral infections that eventually led to his GP taking a blood test. He received the leukaemia diagnosis the same day and was admitted to an isolation ward in hospital two days later. He had a central line fitted and was invited to join a clinical trial but was not initially given all the information he needed to decide. Eventually he agreed and started on chemotherapy. He was also given a course of ATRA (All Trans-Retinoic Acid) tablets, derived from vitamin A, which is only used in treating the type of acute myeloid leukaemia he had, called acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL). His peripheral stem cells were also harvested in case he needed a transplant in future.
During John’s first cycle of chemotherapy he ate very little due to sickness and lack of appetite for hospital food. He lost his hair and the lining of his mouth became inflamed. He was surprised that the side effects didn’t happen immediately and wondered whether the treatment was working and whether he might die. Having been nervous at the start of his treatment, John gradually learned to take things more in his stride and became used to the hospital regime. He found it important to relax and sleep when he needed to and to personalise his room with his belongings. He was glad that the hospital was near his home so family and friends could visit easily. However, he had to refrain from seeing his twin brother due to infection risk because of the similarity of their immune systems.
Over six months John had four courses of treatment out of a possible six under the terms of the trial. The first course lasted seven weeks, the others five, with a few days off in between when he was allowed home. Remission was confirmed after the first course of chemotherapy. His central line was replaced several times during treatment due to infection, plus he developed C-Diff during the third course.
After recovering at home for another six months John returned to work but soon decided to retire to give him more time with family and to do the things he really wanted to. With the help of one of his consultants, he formed a support group to help other patients at his hospital but it folded after three years due to a lack of members.