Mark was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia after having various symptoms. Treatments included interferon and oral chemotherapy. A planned stem cell transplant was deferred after his blood counts improved. He is in remission but still feels unwell.
Mark was experiencing aching limbs, tiredness, excessive sweating, headaches and breathlessness. His GP could find nothing wrong and his blood counts were normal. Some time later Mark went to the GP about an aching shoulder and had another blood test. That evening (a Friday) he was visited at home by a haematologist who examined him and gave him some tablets to take over the weekend saying he should go to the local hospital on Monday for tests. The doctor suspected chronic myeloid leukaemia and told Mark he could survive for up to five years. Mark was shocked and felt that his head was swimming all weekend. He told his family and his sister came over to be with him.
At hospital on the Monday he was told about all the possible treatments and was referred to a specialist hospital where he had a bone marrow biopsy and told he might only live six months. He felt physically exhausted and emotionally drained by the experience. He was put on hydroxyurea chemotherapy capsules and interferon, which he learned to inject himself. He felt ill from treatment side effects so could not work and he became depressed because of the uncertain prognosis and money worries.
After a while Mark’s doctors decided to try an autonomous stem cell transplant preceded by high dose chemotherapy. So he was given injections to boost his stem cells prior to harvesting them but not enough were collected. Before he could harvest more he became critically ill with influenza and spent a few days in hospital. He recovered and harvested more stem cells but was told they were not completely free of leukaemia so would only buy him time while they searched for a transplant donor. No suitable donors were found and Mark sought a second opinion from a specialist in London. Mark’s parents had offered to be tested from the outset but had been told that parents couldn’t be a match. However, later they were tested and, very unusually, Mark’s mother was found to be a match and had her stem cells harvested and frozen.
During this time Mark’s blood counts began to improve so the need for an immediate transplant receded. Since then Mark’s blood counts have continued to improve although he still feels unwell and has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as ME), chronic fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Mark decided to get involved with charity work and set up a local branch of Leukaemia Research with three other patients, which gives him satisfaction to know that he is helping others as well as himself. Mark has tried many forms of complementary therapies including healing and has also had counselling. He has drawn strength from the support he has received from family and friends and has adopted a positive attitude to life whilst accepting that whatever will be will be.