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Inspirational Stories

Tom

AML Survivor

Edmonds, WA

Hello Friends — this is my leukemia journey, For those of you who don’t know me, my entire 38-year teaching career was spent with 9-12 year olds. I’ve always relished the authenticity and passion of this age group and that led me to a very satisfying and rewarding chapter in my life.

In December of 2017, shortly after I retired, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). I have spent 78 days in treatment at Swedish First Hill hospital with five rounds of “drip” chemo fighting this cancer. I have been in remission since mid-January, and received a great report in March that I would not need a stem cell transplant. That was the best news ever!

I completed my final hospital stay in June, and I am re-vitalized to find my “new” normal, stay in remission, and work hard to get back my lost strength. I will continue to take capsule chemo every day at least through July 2019. My form of leukemia mainly affects adults over 55 and children under 15. Since teaching is so much of who I am, how can I not be drawn to a place finding cures for children who struggle with the same difficulties I have experienced?

Seattle Children’s Hospital is local and doing such great work with finding remarkable advancements for children’s blood cancers. I recently toured Children’s and met with the lead doctor, Dr. Todd Cooper, of the “High-Risk Leukemia program.” (HRL) I knew this was the right effort to support! There are two risk categories of children with leukemia — “standard” and “high”. Children who respond to chemotherapy are considered “standard.” Children who don’t respond to normal chemo treatments or those who have relapsed are considered “high” risk. What follows is a stem cell transplant and efforts to return to remission that are experimental.

I plan to have a group of friends join me on a climb I’m taking on in August 2019 to celebrate my return to health and be the culmination to the fundraiser. The evening of the climb we will complete the celebration with dinner. A big component of my recovery is having lofty goals that put my leukemia in the rear-view mirror. I am so excited to get on with my life in full-throttle and be a part of making this a better world!

Tom