Saturday, May 17, 2008

One Year Ago Today

A year ago today I was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. I had never met Dr. Reddy until that afternoon, my Primary Care Physician had made the appointment. Dr. Reddy said to confirm the diagnosis she would need a bone marrow biopsy. I would be admitted to the hospital in three days for three weeks of aggressive chemo therapy. I’d probably live six months, maybe a year. Dr Reddy took the bone marrow from my hip. Anna met me in the doctor’s office and listened to Dr. Reddy lay out the details. Our good friend Janet picked us up and we went home and spent the next 24 hours trying to come to terms with the idea that I was sick and dying.

On the afternoon of the 18th Dr. Reddy called, “Mr. Sumner, I have good news, your leukemia is chronic not acute. I have cancelled your admission to the hospital. We will start a different course of chemo therapy next week.”

The bone marrow biopsy showed I had CLL, a very serious but treatable blood cancer. Thanks to Dr. Reddy and a particular monoclonal antibody called Rituxan, today less than 5% of my blood cells are cancer cells. A year ago 80% of my blood cells were cancer cells.

Anna started this blog a year ago to help keep friends and family informed on my condition and progress. It also served as a learning tool and a sort of therapy for her. This past year was extremely hard on her. She gave up a great deal for me, she put her life on hold to help save mine. Thanks for giving her space and the time she needed.

I don’t intend to ever mention this anniversary again, it’s not a day to celebrate. I don’t celebrate pain and anguish. Since May 18th, 2007 I’ve celebrated each day, one at a time. And each day is better than the one before.

This blog will remain and be updated at least monthly. But if you wonder “How’s Dave doing?”, just tell yourself “He’s doing fine.” Because I am.


Betsy said...

Hi Dave,
I am so happy to hear this news. I passed the info on to my friend, Emru Townsend in Montreal, who has recently been diagnosed with CLL and is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Info at:
He's African American of Caribbean descent and blacks are desperately under represented on donor lists.
Anna's blog is so wonderfully organized and sane and grounded. It's perfect for anyone entering the uncharted seas to read. Thanks Anna for putting all this nec. info out there. Thanks Dave for sharing your story - And much love to you both - Betsy

Anonymous said...

Knowing it was the anniversary, you and Anna were on my mind all day yesterday at the Potter Valley jazz concert. I recall the times you two joined us there - besides the music, the fruitless searching for "the Mud Hut", and one hot year (like this one...) a boothful of hot and sweaty people drinking malteds at Zacks.
Your attitude is most sane; it made me tear up and made me smile and Stu and I look forward to toasting your good health next month.

namastenancy said...

This is such good news! You and Anna are often in my thoughts. I hope and pray that all things continue to get better with both of you.

blessings be!

Florence said...

Dave & Anna,
I happened upon your blog through the LLS Newsletter that I receive by email. I wanted to congratulate Dave on his one year anniversary. I'm coming upon my own on 6/7/08. I have/had (I still don't know what to say) AML. I stayed at OHSU in Portland. I've been in remission since 6/21/07 and had my own stem cells transplanted in October, and wait 'tiredly' ;-) for my numbers to come up also. I have a blog site too if you would be interested, even thought I don't have the same type of Leukemia, it sounds like we've been through some of the same can email me for the address at:
God Bless,
Florence Allen

Mark and Margaret said...

Wonderful news. We are so happy to hear that you are coming out on the other side of a tough year. You and Anna are inspiring people!

Mark and Margaret