My name is Jeff Kurowski and I am 35 years old. I have lived with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) for two years and Crohn's disease (CD) for 20 years. I have had three feet of my intestines removed. I now depend on daily bowel suppression medication, monthly B12 shots, biologic therapy for a quality of life, and a daily targeted chemotherapy pill to stay alive.
I am married to my beautiful wife Abigail and we have an adorable son Jaxson. Abby experienced pregnancy complications and while she was being induced, I learned that I had a hyper-elevated white blood count after a follow-up gastroenterology appointment. We welcomed Jax to the world on April 24, 2013. During the five-day hospital stay for labor, delivery, and post-partum, I faced lab and imaging diagnostic tests. My life changed forever when I became a father and learned I have an incurable blood cancer.
I was not involved with Jax for the first eight months of his life. I spiraled into a deep, dark depression while I tried to understand and cope with the circumstance. It was devastating to have mortality thrown in my face as a young adult. I was trying to be a husband, learning how to be a dad, balancing a career as an engineer, and going to graduate school; all this while facing leukemia and starting a lifelong targeted chemotherapy treatment.
A year into this journey, I graduated with an MBA degree; we moved from Cleveland to Columbus, OH; I found a new job; we sold our house; we lived with the in-laws; and we bought a house. I am closing in on my two-year cancer-versary and I have achieved a complete molecular response (CMR). Woot! Woot!
The love, support, and encouragement from Abby and Jax, family, friends, and the community of support inspire me. I will not let a disease define me or destroy me, but I will let it strengthen me. I have met many new friends in the young adult cancer community. The strength, courage, compassion, and charisma demonstrated by each individual are inspirational.
I strongly believe in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and its vision. I cannot thank the team enough. Due in part to LLS-supported research, a miracle targeted chemotherapy drug was approved for first line therapy of CML in 2001. This revolutionary drug changed the treatment landscape for cancer. It turned a former terminal diagnosis into a chronic disease. This allows leukemia survivors, like me, to expect to live a long life and hope to see my wife, children, and grandchildren grow up. Thank you LLS!