Mike was diagnosed with hairy cell leukaemia in 2003 after a variety of symptoms. Five daily doses of cladribine chemotherapy put him into remission. During diagnostic tests he was also found to have kidney cancer, which was removed surgically.
Historically Mike had been a frequent hill walker but in late middle age did so less often and began to gain weight and was breathless on exertion. He noticed that cuts didn’t heal as quickly as usual and he got a lot of fungal infections. In 2003 he and his wife walked the Cotswold Way but he found himself looking for excuses to make it easier for him and carrying his rucksack bruised him. On their return home his wife suggested he go to his GP, who did a blood test. The results were back in two days and he was given an appointment to see a haematologist a few days later. The specialist asked lots of questions including whether he had experienced any pain in the area of his spleen, which he had, and arranged for him to return another day for a bone marrow biopsy and a scan. After the tests he was told he had an unusual type of leukaemia’ hairy cell.
After a few days he returned to hospital for 5 daily doses of cladribine, a type of chemotherapy delivered intravenously, which caused him no significant side effects apart from tiredness. The treatment put him into remission, but he was told to adopt a neutropenic diet for a few weeks until his blood cell counts returned to normal. The scan also revealed a cancer on his kidney and once he was no longer neutropenic it was surgically removed. He needed no further treatment for this as it had been caught very early.
Mike feels he has been lucky as he has never felt particularly unwell through his illness experience.