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The LLS Blog

Read about survivors, research, fundraising and advocacy.

Barely Legal, Barely Leukemic: My CML Story

By Isabel Munson |

I arrived at college in September, barely legal, but fully ready to live out the Hollywood higher education stereotype. I was fighting a cold but didn’t let that stop me from attending every party I could. The revelry lasted until October, when the “cold” was diagnosed as chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).

I went to the university health center on suspicions of mono, and the next thing I knew I was on the oncology floor of a Boston hospital. My mother flew in from Texas just in time for my diagnosis. Several doctors sat me down, gave me the news, and then looked at me expectantly. I tried to seem unemotional and think of questions to ask, but really just wanted to be left alone.

A constant stream of visitors was a blessing, but also meant that I had to fake acceptance and understanding to make others comfortable. It took me several weeks to comprehend that my version of the ideal college experience—fraternity parties, boyfriends, spring break trips—would not be happening.