acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Hey, my name is Chancez (ironically, I was blessed with many chances last year). I became a part of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) community last year and was provided financial support. I was also presented with love, care, and daily reminders of all the support that was available to me to get me through such a rough period in my life. A friend of mine suggested that I share my story to help others in our community, especially young adults who are in the same predicament I was once in. I’m usually a private person, but I know this fight is bigger than me, and I need to help in any way I can. Here is a brief overview of the beginning of my story.
I was diagnosed with cancer last year on June 17, 2022, the day that changed my outlook on life forever. I am a person who gets checkups at least two times a year because I am cautious about my health. Last year I got a physical pretty late because I got a new job and had to wait for my insurance to start. As soon as I received my insurance, I made an appointment with a new primary care physician (PCP). I’m usually never nervous to get a physical because I’m always pretty healthy. The only issue I usually would have is weight gain. However, last year was different! My new PCP called me and advised me that my bloodwork was abnormal, and she wanted me to come back for retesting. I brushed it off at first, but I figured I’d get it over with because it had to be a mistake. The second time my bloodwork came back abnormal again, and this time my doctor called me and was flabbergasted by the results. She asked me, “Are you okay? You don’t feel sick or feel flu-like symptoms?” At this point, I was confused and nervous because I felt completely fine and wondered what could it possibly be that she was asking me these questions in such a concerning voice. She referred me to a hematologist and told me to go the next day, no exceptions! I saw my hematologist who advised me that based on my bloodwork they suspected cancer but were unsure which specific blood cancer it was. I was in complete disbelief! I did a bone marrow biopsy that day and was called that night to confirm I had acute myeloid leukemia (AML)! I never heard of AML and did not know the symptoms. I was in denial and kept asking the hematologist, “ARE YOU SURE because I feel fine?” I felt like I could run a marathon. I kept telling myself there was no way I had cancer. Then the news got worse! My hematologist advised me that it’s possible I may have to receive a stem cell transplant if it shows that I have the FLT3 mutation. You would think the word “CANCER” would make the situation real to me, but it was the word “transplant” that broke me down! I was preparing myself for the worst and was ready to give up before the fight against AML even began. All I was thinking was this is how I am going to die at the age of 30.
I broke the news to my mom, and she didn’t flinch, cry, or get upset. She received and processed the news so well in a matter of seconds! Then she simply but strongly said to me “I’m not worried, I know you’re going to be okay.” To anyone else, those words may seem like the normal thing to say, but to hear that from my mom and to see how she kept her composure, her words made me feel safe and comfortable but most importantly cured! I know there’s no cure for AML, but my mom’s words and confidence took the cancer away from me mentally in an instant! Her words gave me a spark that I needed that said, “Chancez, fight for your life!” From there, the journey began, and boy was it an adventure that is still going.