Julie was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia after experiencing weight loss and bruising. She had four courses of chemotherapy then high dose therapy and whole body irradiation followed by an autologous bone marrow transplant. She is in remission.
Julie was training to run the London marathon and was losing weight along with her appetite. Her training was interrupted by a respiratory infection. She also noticed that simple injuries caused enormous bruises so she called a doctor out. The GP suggested a blood test and phoned a few days later to check that she had done this. She had a blood test done at her local hospital on a Saturday and within a couple of hours the GP phoned to say that she should return to the hospital. There she was told that she had acute myeloid leukaemia, which was an enormous shock given that she hadn’t felt very unwell.
She was given an infusion of platelets and blood immediately and kept in overnight. The next day she was transferred by ambulance to a London hospital for treatment. With the blue light flashing the 30 mile journey took only 25 minutes. Her sister went home and packed her things and delivered them to the hospital.
Julie had a line put in her groin for her chemotherapy to be delivered through and was started on a four week regimen of two different chemotherapy drugs three times a day. About ten days in she had her hair cut short in preparation for it falling out. She was surprised not to experience any sickness but did develop mouth ulcers and piles as a side effect of treatment, which caused a lot of pain. After a month in hospital she was allowed home for a few days, which coincided with her birthday. When she returned she was told she was in remission but that she would have three further courses of chemotherapy with a few days at home in between.
She continued to feel ill as a result of the treatment but had an operation to stop the piles, relieving her of the pain. After four courses of chemotherapy, to reduce the likelihood of relapse she was offered an autologous bone marrow transplant, which would be preceded by high dose chemotherapy and total body irradiation. It was explained that this would make her infertile and as Julie hoped to get married and have children in future she initially refused the procedure but was eventually persuaded to have it as the risks to her life were so high without it. She had the procedure and it took several weeks for her to feel better. After six months in hospital she was discharged.
During treatment Julie had been put on the contraceptive pill to stop her periods and after treatment ended she experience hot flushes. Her specialists confirmed that the treatment had caused an early menopause and prescribed HRT. Although she had some ovarian tissue frozen before her high dose therapy, Julie has decided not to attempt to use it because of the complications and uncertainties involved.