There is a commonality in everyone's first reaction to find out that they have cancer, its shock. I was no different.
On Tuesday December 3rd, I went in for a long overdue doctor appointment, mostly worried about my cholesterol that hadn't been checked in 2 years. The doctor must have worried about something since he signed me up to do every test possible, including X-Ray and Cat scan. I was actually surprised he didn't sign me up for the SAT's and ACT's since he seemed to be covering everything possible.
In hindsight I should have suspected something, I had been losing some weight without trying, a couple of weeks waking up in cold sweats, and I was very, very tired most of the time. I could explain it all in my head, we have a 2 year old, and being sick all the time seems to be the norm. At the age of 40 I was trying to keep up with college players on the soccer field, so it was understandable that I was starting to fall behind. Unfortunately all my symptoms were lost in the traffic of just trying to be a 40 year old dad to a 2 year old, or at least that is what I told myself.
The next day I got a call in the the morning from the doctors nurse that the doctor wanted to see me later that morning. Again, something serious wasn't on my mind. Although I had a feeling doctors don't just call you in to talk about your bad cholesterol.
When the doctor sat me down, and looked up at me and told me "I have some bad news, you have Leukemia", I think my world just stopped at that moment. I can honestly say that I don't remember much of the rest of the conversation, just those words. Thank God that Cynthia was there to pick up the pieces that now were me. I just buried my face in my hands, and it was if the world had just halted to a stop. My world revolves around Cynthia and Christian, and suddenly I felt as if I was thrown out of orbit without any control.
Now any story about me and Leukemia can't be told without bringing up one of my very closest and dearest friends, Tyler Bledsoe. I couldn't do justice in trying to accurately reflect what a stand up guy Tyler is, but if I had a brother, I would want him to be like Tyler. Unfortunately Tyler was diagnosed with Leukemia back in early 2007, and has battled it like a Spartan. When I finally stepped out of looking inward and the "why me" thoughts, it immediately came to me that I have a role model in how to fight, and fight hard. You can follow Tyler's battle on his blog at http://bledsoebattle.blogspot.com/ . He is scheduled for a bone marrow in late January, and he is now building his strength up these past couple of weeks.
Now for the dry statistics, my White Blood Cell (WBC) was 189,000 and it should normally be in the 4000 to 11,000 range. They had double checked the results, and it was pretty clear that it was Leukemia. There are different types of Leukemia, and once I could gather myself, the focus shifted to finding out which type, since the treatments are very different.
By the way, I named the site "ftbwtw" which stands for Fighting the Battle - Winning the War. It comes from my Aunt Toni who is an inspiration since she has battled cancer for over 10 years, and is now in remission. She is the truly remarkable, her spirit and how she tackled this. She has been a shoulder I could lean on this past week. My aunt Donna has provided me some great comic relief, along with another shoulder to lean on. Someone they both just know the right thing to say.