Thelma was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia after having a blood test when dealing with an eye infection. Three courses of different chemotherapies have not yet achieved a remission. She is being monitored regularly and may be given more treatment.
Thelma had a blood test done in the course of investigating and treating an eye infection. She was called back for a repeat blood test and referred to a haematologist. She was initially told that the results were normal but later a bone marrow test showed that she had acute myeloid leukaemia and she was told she may have only a few months to live.
She was admitted to hospital and had chemotherapy twice a day for ten days, which she tolerated quite well but once at home after several weeks in hospital her skin peeled off from her limbs and back. She was told the treatment had not worked as well as was hoped and her prognosis was poor. However after a few weeks she began to feel better and another bone marrow test showed that the number of leukaemic cells had reduced considerably but not enough for her to be in remission.
She then became ill with chicken pox, shingles and pneumonia, requiring another hospital stay. She was then treated with Mylotarg as an outpatient and injected herself with cytarabine chemotherapy at home. She then took part in a clinical trial of a new drug from Japan that was injected into her arm every 2-3 weeks for 10-15 weeks, which gave her stiff arms which were relieved by steroids.
Three years on Thelma is still not in remission but attends the hospital regularly as an outpatient where her blood counts are monitored. She has developed bruises on her arms in recent months and expects to be given more treatment in the future. Thelma suffers from breathlessness (partly due to emphysema) and tires easily. She cannot do much around the house but her husband and sisters provide practical support.