Thursday, March 29, 2007

T's Letter to the family

Hey everyone, I wanted to first of all thank you all SO much for your help during our wedding ceremony and reception! Mandy and I enjoyed it very much, and you all had a huge part in making it so special! Even though I wasnt feeling 100% just getting over my pneumonia I had a very special day and night!

Quite a few of you know more about what is going on with me with regards to my health, but I wanted to update everyone on whats going on. The weekend before the wedding I was pretty sick, and it eventually got so bad that I needed to see a doctor. I went in on monday (week of the wedding), and he looked me over to see what was going on. They took a blood sample, and found that my white blood cell count was extremely high (132,000.......compared to normal which is under 10,000). He was actually in stunned amazement that I seemed pretty healthy other than my cold symptoms. My blood pressure, temperature and most everything was quite normal. They took a chest X-Ray and found that I had pneumonia pretty deep in my system. They took a second sample of my blood to make sure the first one wasnt a mistake, and sent it to Stevens hospital. They sent me home and were to call me when they got the results back in one hour.
When they received the results, they were the same...........and the doctor told me to go directly to the ER at Stevens. Once there they put me on an IV right away to hydrate me and help me get on the mend, and we waited to hear from the pathologist about my blood sample. The ER doctor informed me very matter of factly that he had never seen this high a white blood cell count in 10 years of being an ER doc at Stevens. He knew that it was most likely Leukemia, and told us as much. We were both very scared upon hearing this news, but knew that I was in good hands. Before we got the results, they decided to admit me to the hospital and I was to hear from an Oncologist later monday night.

The results did indeed confirm that I have Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). By the time we heard the results, I had already begun to think ahead as to how I will fight this blood cancer. I will fight this cancer the same way I have always taken on a challenge! I will remain positive through this and will move forward as planned. I am so thankful for all of the gifts I've been given in life, and this wont change that. I am an extremely blessed man, and now with Mandy by my side I am more blessed than ever!

Fortunately, I have a form of Leukemia that is treatable, and it looks like we caught it soon enough to be able to fight it quickly. Over the next few weeks we will learn more as the results of my bone marrow sample come in, and my blood is examined on a weekly basis.

I am very confident with all the love surrounding us from family and friends that we will be able to get through this! You have all treated me like family from the beginning, and I respect all of you so much! I want you all to know that I am feeling well, and Mandy and I have enjoyed married life to the utmost thus far. We had a week to relax after the wedding and I am now back at work full time. Please pray for both of us to fight this blood cancer.

Originally posted by Tyler on Thursday March 29, 2007 - 02:31pm

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Challenging Week

It's been a wild ride for my new husband and me over the last month. A week before our wedding last month, he came down with what he called the worst cold he had ever had. He started getting sick on Friday and spent all weekend sleeping and coughing and feeling miserable. On Monday morning he went to a walk-in clinic for diagnosis. The doctor there was a little concerned by Tyler's cold symptoms, but he was more concerned about the results of his blood work. He drew another blood sample and sent it to another lab at a nearby hospital for confirmation. The doctor sent Tyler home to wait for that result. When he called back, later in the afternoon, he said the second blood draw had confirmed the initial counts and advised T to go to the Emergency Room.

We checked into the ER about 3pm on a Monday. We were taken back to a room right away, so we were thankful we didn’t have to spend a great deal of time in the waiting room. They took yet another blood draw, so my poor guy had been stuck all over by then. This last confirmed what all of the others had and we started to get scared by what we heard. The average person has white blood cell counts between 4 and 10 thousand per unit. A sick person might have a white blood cell count as high as 20 thousand as their body attempted to fight off the infection. T’s blood count on that day was 132 thousand per unit.

The only thing that causes a white blood cell count that high is leukemia.

The doctors in the ER were really great about keeping us informed about the process. They spent most of the next few hours trying to determine if the leukemia was an Acute or Chronic version. The Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is significantly more dangerous and would mean in hospital treatment for the next month. The blasts in AML happen so fast and are so immature that they have to work immediately to bring down the counts and get the patient into serious treatment. The Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) would likely have been present for years and gradually was causing more and more problems, but wasn’t so dangerous.

After several hours in the ER, they finally made the decision to admit Tyler into the hospital without knowing exactly which kind of leukemia he had. In addition, they had an oncologist coming in to meet with us later that evening. We had been on the phone with our parents and siblings throughout the afternoon, so they started arriving about the time we were moving upstairs to a private room. It was such a great relief to have them there with us – my strength was significantly bolstered having loved ones with us.

When the oncologist met with us, I was very impressed. He was good at explaining more about the disease in common language and what we could expect for treatment. He thought Tyler could be released from the hospital in time to be at our wedding that weekend, but we needed to cancel our honeymoon plans for now. Treatment would entail weekly office visits for a period of time, as they monitor his body’s response to medication.

Tyler was in the hospital until Thursday of that week, but was released with lowered blood counts. He was down to 99 thousand white blood cells by Thursday. There was much to be done on Friday in preparation for the wedding, but he was able to do what needed to be completed. We made a decision not to tell people about his diagnosis until after the wedding. We didn’t want to mar the joy of our wedding with the sad news of a chronic illness. It was sad not to be able to share such an important turning point in our lives with so many dear friends and family, but we appreciate your understanding about our decision.

Our wedding day was filled with joy. Tyler got a little tired during the actual ceremony, but you wouldn’t have known if he didn’t tell you. Once he sat down for a meal at the reception, he recovered his energy pretty quickly. We danced, we talked with friends and family, we enjoyed our day SO MUCH! Thanks to all who contributed to the fun!

More to come later on the ride we’ve taken with this leukemia thing…

Originally posted on Wednesday March 28, 2007 - 06:01pm (PDT)