I had been tired and achy for months, but assumed I was stressed and overworked. My memory and cognitive abilities were off and I couldn’t handle stressful situations. I went in for a routine check-up and my blood pressure was off the charts, which lead to a test for my cholesterol levels. My primary care physician was concerned with my elevated white blood cell count and referred me to a hematologist/oncologist. After multiple tests it was confirmed that I had CML Leukemia. It was a very scary time for me. CML has three phases — chromic, acute and blast — and blast phase is still considered largely a death sentence.
Thankfully I was in the chromic phase and immediately applied and got assistance for a revolutionary targeted chemotherapy medicine called Sprycel that is taken in pill form daily. The cost is $180,000 a year. Initially the side effects were horrible and I spent the better part of the summer in bed. Slowly my body accepted and adjusted to the medicine and my blood was returning to normal levels. Around Thanksgiving I started to feel like myself again and by Christmas I was starting to have a lot of good days. I started to work again and enjoy activities and socializing. On Dec 31, 2014, my oncologist declared me cancer-free and said that I achieved in seven months what was supposed to take 18. He accredited the early detection and my dedication to treatment, including the best nutrition that I could get my hands on, to my miraculous recovery.
Without healthcare coverage, I wouldn’t have had that physical. I would have waited until I was very sick before seeking medical attention and this would have lead to a much harder recovery or an early death. But instead, I’ll take Sprycel for two more years and then will most likely have a normal life expectancy. I am very grateful that President Obama made universal healthcare a priority and have been blown away by the world-class medical attention I received in Rhode Island.