Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cancer Question # 1

Cancer Question #1
Whenever someone learns that I have been diagnosed with cancer, namely leukemia, the first question they usually ask me is how I discovered I had leukemia. Well, wouldn't you know it that on the day I "come out" on my blog is the same day that a controversy has erupted over when women should begin to get mammograms for breast cancer. The old thinking was start at age 40. The new thinking is start at age 50. Well, I'm long past 50 but I do think more people would be discovered earlier if we continued the tests starting at 40. I have a niece who had breast cancer just the other year and luckily the cancer was caught and treated early. But if women now wait till 50, there will be some who will not be so lucky. And in my cancer reading and research I'm learning that the earlier a person is diagnosed with breast cancer the more virulent the disease is.

So how did I learn that I had leukemia? Through my annual mammogram exam. In May of 2008 my mammogram and sonogram showed enlarged lymph nodes so I was scheduled for a sixth month follow up which I did right before Thanksgiving. I wasn't very concerned because I had been having some urinary tract infections and the health workers said that could be the reason for the enlarged lymph nodes. (Of course, frequent urinary tract infections are also a common side effect of leukemia because your immune system is depressed. So I guess what I am trying to emphasize is that mammograms are very important for more than one type of cancer. Get them early and keep getting them.

The mammogram indicated that I had a type of lymphoma and the biopsy in January confirmed this. And then a MRI test and blood work completed my diagnosis of leukemia.

Two Types of Leukemia:
Acute ****** Chronic
Two Main Types of Chronic Leukemia:
Myeloid (in blood but not nodes) ****** Lymphcytic ( in blood and lymph nodes)

Joann's diagnosis: chronic lymphcytic leukemia

Tomorrow I write about the second most asked question I'm getting these days.


Patty said...

I agree about the mammograms, they should start them at 40.

I had a scare when I was having some breathing problems and when they checked me out, the lymph node in my chest was enlarged. So they were going to biopsy it. Which means they would make a small opening above the collar bone, surgeon said he really didn't want to do it, because the instruments were only so long, and my lymph node looked like it was down a little further then usual. We made arrangements to have it done and in the mean time, I had a lump pop out at my wrist. So family doctor said we would biopsy it. Canceled the other appointment for the lymph node. I had also had biopsies of the lungs, which didn't show what they were looking for. My family doctor told our one daughter he thought for sure I had lymphoma. Lung doctor thought I had something called sarcoidosis, but he didn't want to start me on steroids until he knew for sure. Well that was what I had, so went on steroids for a little over a year. Again, just like with my cancer, I was very fortunate. I think I must have a guardian angel.

Glad everything is going smoothly for you. Hope the treatments aren't too bad. Now a days some people don't even get sick taking them. It's so much different than chemo use to be.

Sorry for being so long winded. Even though you've had a lot of energy don't over do your working around the house and cleaning.

Melinda said...


Hope you continue to do well! I did not even know you had leukemia. I will keep you in my prayers.

I wanted to send a BIG THANK YOU for providing me with that link about 2012 I could give to Noah to read. That made him (and myself) feel so much better about it and he understood it and is no longer as apprehensive or fearful as he was about that date and I think he no longer believes in all the doom and gloom some would predict for that year.

SO thanks again! The explanation offered there about that just being the end of that particular calendar the Myans had kept which would then just simply START OVER made a lot of sense. Similar to how are calendar starts over once we hit December 31 each year.