On November 22, 2013, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). There was no sign that anything was wrong until I went in for routine blood work. My platelet count, which should have been in the 150,000 to 400,000 mcL range, was over a million. After a bone marrow biopsy, my oncologist discovered that I had Philadelphia chromosome–positive CML.
My diagnosis opened my eyes to just how much has been accomplished in the fight against cancer.
Prior to 2001, CML amounted to a death sentence. Traditional chemotherapy and radiation weren't very successful when battling CML. Since then, however, a targeted therapy called imatinib was developed which has much greater rate of success in treating CML patients. Today, over 90% of patients who are diagnosed with CML go on to live a normal life.
Thanks to a second-generation form of imatinib, I am happy to say that within ten months of beginning treatment, there was no sign of cancer in my blood. To this day, I am still healthy, all because of what I now call my "miracle drug." Because of the development of imatinib, I was able to get married, see Europe, volunteer at various non-profits, and spend more time with the people I love. Because of imatinib, I am still here.
Research grants from LLS helped fund the development of imatinib. If a miracle drug like this can be discovered for one kind of leukemia, why not all forms of leukemia? And lymphoma? And all other types of cancer? A cure for cancer isn't just some hypothetical dream-- it's here, now. Because of research funding, progress is being made each and every day. Someday really is today.