acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)
I experienced extreme nausea and slight shortness of breath for a week prior to being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), clots in my lungs (PE), kidneys, and a valve of the heart on April 16, 2022.
I underwent intense treatment (induction phase) for 28 days and the consolidation phase for six months at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. My leukemia was treated with non-chemo drugs, ATRA and arsenic trioxide. With due thanks to the oncology team and nursing staff at RWJ, I am currently in remission.
A lesson I learned for life is to see the doctor right away when something unusual is experienced by your body. Early detection is the key. I continued to ignore purple patches on my arms (which are a clear indication of low platelets in the body) and extensive nausea. I saw my physician a week later after noticing the purple patches. I went in for bloodwork and got a call early the next morning from the doctor herself that my WBC count was low at 1.1, platelets were dangerously low at 55, and neutrophils were at .28. I rushed to the hospital and in four hours was diagnosed with possible APL (would get confirmed post-bone marrow biopsy), blood clots in my lungs and both kidneys.
I am told the first dose of four ATRA pills saved my life.
The treatment for the next 28 days was four ATRA pills twice a day, arsenic infusion once a day, in addition to other medications. I went through multiple blood transfusions, CT scans, echograms, ultrasounds, and EKGs.
I am eternally grateful to my circle of immediate family and friends for the love and support through my treatment and continued recovery.
Words will fall short to thank my dad who reminded me to practice gratitude and acceptance and to be truly in the moment as we let existence take its course. My dad left his body six days before my consolidation phase ended.
I can’t thank my daughter, a resident physician by profession, enough. She was proudly referred to by the nurses at RWJ as a tigress watching over me and would not let anything happen to me. She continues to be a tigress.