My name is Chris, I am a 26-year-old residing in Orlando, Florida. I was diagnosed in August 2018 by accident when I had severe back pain and went to the emergency room to seek relief. After I developed more symptoms than just the back pain, the ER doctor ran some bloodwork, did a CT scan, and a bladder scan and found out that I had a HUGE spleen and EXTREMELY high white blood cell counts that were very alarming. I was then diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) which was confirmed with a bone marrow biopsy. I was admitted to the hospital initially for only a few days while they controlled my white blood cell counts and got me down to a near normal level. I had a follow-up appointment the day after I was discharged and the doctor seemed very optimistic and told me everything would be smooth sailing as long as I took this drug he gave me. It seemed odd that it would be that easy, so my wife did further research and suggested we seek a second opinion.
Fast forward a few weeks and I had scheduled an appointment with a nationally recognized CML specialist to make sure I was receiving the correct care. At first, he seemed confident that I was given the correct drug, my white blood cell count was now too low but he said I needed to adjust. By the time October rolled around I was neutropenic, had almost no white blood cell count and they were starting to see blast cells in my blood while doing blood work. I was given a bone marrow biopsy the same day and a shot to stimulate the marrow so they could see what was going on. Two days later I was at their ER with a slight fever and they ran some tests to make sure I didn’t have anything infectious because I had a seriously compromised immune system at that point, and everything came back clear. They kept me overnight and they were going to send me home the next day when the team of doctors came in and said I had moved into Blast Crisis Phase of the disease and needed induction chemotherapy right away. After that 34-day stay in the hospital, they let me know that I needed a Stem Cell Transplant in order to cure me since I was resistant to the drugs. After a few snafus at our original cancer center, we flew to NYC to meet the BMT team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and within a month they had me admitted for transplant. March 8th, 2019 was my “day zero” where I got to start over and rid myself of my cancer that I had been dealing with for 7 months. I am now on my healing journey with my wife Kendra by my side as my caregiver until we are able to head back home to Florida with our two dogs.