My stepmom forwarded me this article earlier today, full of several similarities with my leukemia. Same exact subtype, identical bleeding gums symptoms (although hers sound worse than mine), even receiving treatment at the same hospital. Advances in treatment have come a long way in twenty plus years, though -- meaning most of her treatment is out patient. Still, now walk in the park by any stretch.
As a tear trickled down Katie Collier's cheek, she started to laugh.
The touted basketball recruit sat tucked into a leather chair with her long legs pulled up at an angle, her feet resting on an ottoman. She wore a black sweatsuit and her long, blond hair flowed down her right side.
She blinked back tears, but never stopped smiling.
During a time when most 18-year-olds with Division I college scholarship offers are making final decisions, the Seattle Christian senior tried to explain what it's like to have a dream diverted, a decision delayed.
Instead of selecting a school, Collier is dealing with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). She takes a chemotherapy pill at 9 a.m. and another at 9 p.m. and, until this week, made daily trips to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for an arsenic drip.
But she isn't upset. She doesn't seem scared. Tears come with the territory, but she leans on laughter.
"It's more important to bring more smiles than tears," Collier said. "Who wants to be there soaking in tears? Not me."
Also received a couple of new books from Mom today -- one of which, The Emperor of All Maladies, I'm already devouring. The early pages on leukemia are especially riveting.
The arrival of a patient with acute leukemia still sends a shiver down the hospital's spine -- all the way from the cancer wards on its upper floors to the clinical laboratories buried deep in the basement. Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells -- cancer in one of it's most explosive, violent incarnations. As one nurse on the wards often liked to remind her patients, with this disease "even a paper cut is an emergency."