Joannie was officially diagnosed with Philadelphia Positive Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia – CML. She was told she had 2 – 4 years to live and was too old for a bone marrow transplant. She had no siblings for a possible bone marrow match anyway. So now “The Beast” was discovered, awake and roaring. Their lives had changed forever.
Jerry, stayed by her side every day then each night at home, he researched leukemia, anatomy and physiology of blood, WBC, RBC, platelets and everything in between. He searched for cures, treatments, prognosis, experts of all sorts, trials, any word of hope for our future together. The information he found in 2001, was not very encouraging and confirmed a short life expectancy, there was no cure. What a blow!
After 2 ½ very painful and interesting days her extreme white blood count had been reduced to only 4 times normal.
Life was becoming better by the hour. Her oncologist and hematologist surprised her by saying,
“If you have to have cancer, this is the one to have.”
Her new oncologist then introduced her to a new drug, the first of its kind. It had just been approved by the FDA 3 months before and accepted on the insurance formulary less than 2 weeks before.
This miracle targeted drug would extend Joannie’s life daily. Her new prognosis: Unknown on this drug, with such a short history, but it looked promising.
Oh my God! … she felt she was the lucky one!!! Imagine that! A drug that might extend her life beyond 4 years! Not a cure but hope rushed in and lifted spirits! Now, would this new drug work on her and if so, for how long? No matter how long it took or how difficult the journey, she decided that she would fight The Beast! He wanted to take Joannie’s life, but she was a formidable opponent and The Beast would have to fight her for it with the help of her new weapon – (imatinib mesylate)!
There was so much information to process in just a short amount of time. There were so many heightened emotions with which to deal. Continuous communication with friends and family members all over the U.S. some in Europe, with updates and status, was important and time-consuming. What about a second opinion? What about the future? What about the garage she had to clean out! She had so many questions yet to be answered.