Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patient William shares the story of his CLL journey, including how it was traumatic for him. Watch as he shares the experience of his diagnosis and treatment and the benefits he’s experienced by advocating for himself.
My name is William. I worked as a first responder in Dallas for 34 years before I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. My primary care doctor noticed my white blood count was high during a routine physical and sent me to see an oncologist. My CLL diagnosis was traumatic in a few ways. Both my father and my uncle passed away after battling multiple myeloma.And my father passed away one month before I was diagnosed.
After my past trauma with my father and my uncle and their cancer diagnosis, I shared news about my diagnosis right away with my entire immediate family. I didn’t want them to experience what I went through with my father and uncle. I switched my first oncologist after noticing my first doctor wasn’t a good fit. I remained in watch and wait until I started having some symptoms and started seeing a CLL specialist via telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I liked my doctor’s approach and started an experimental treatment. By my second treatment, my lymph nodes were almost back to normal. During the pandemic, I’ve done televisits with my doctor every three months to go over my blood tests. Televisits weren’t a big concern for me. I felt like I was getting the same level of care, and they are also a normal part of care for CLL patients.
My first bone marrow test showed that my cancer was in 90 percent of my bone marrow, but now it’s only 0.23 percent. Along with my care, I made a few lifestyle changes to help my body. I took charge of my health by losing 30 to 40 pounds, by working out and walking. I cut meat and sugar out of my diet to prepare my body to fight CLL. I wanted to do everything I could to be around for my family for many more years. A big part of my life is music. I love playing jazz for others to enjoy and hope to be playing for many years into the future as well.
My advice to other CLL patients:
- Make the decision to fight this.
- Be open to clinical trials.
- Get a physician you trust, someone who is very knowledgeable, and someone who you can rely on 100 percent.
These actions are key to staying on your path to empowerment.