My family and I were just coming to terms with the fact that I’d recently been diagnosed with cancer when, on the 5th April 2010, eight days after my diagnosis, a consultant took myself and my dad into a consulting room.
“We’ve made a mistake” he said, “we’ve studied your test results and they show that your leukaemia diagnosis was incorrect”. I didn’t know whether to smile or cry and I think that after living with the knowledge that his son had cancer for over a week that my dad was on the brink of punching the doctor after the way that he announced that they’d merely made a mistake.
He continued, “although your condition isn’t cancerous, it’s still serious, if not worse”. My face dropped and I looked to my dad for reassurance. “We believe that you’re suffering with a condition called aplastic anaemia which affects one in 500,000 children”. Because the condition is so rare they couldn’t answer my simple questions like “Why?” simply because there hadn’t been enough research.
Aplastic anaemia is a blood disorder that is widely unknown by many although it is as common as some forms as leukaemia, hence my original diagnosis, and can often be just as devastating. It prevents the bone marrow from reproducing blood cells and although in some cases the bone marrow can quickly recover itself, the severity of my diagnosis meant that I was to be kept alive by weekly blood transfusions.
Shortly after my new diagnosis I was discharged from Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and looked after at my local hospital where sometimes I could stay for days or even weeks and at other times could go for a few weeks without having to stay overnight. I still had to go for regular appointments with my consultant in Cambridge, though, who informed me that the only ‘cure’ for aplastic anaemia would be to have a bone marrow transplant however there was an alternative treatment that they would try first and that I’d be coming back for a long stay in complete isolation shortly.
Thank you so much for such a great response to my last blog post. I’m writing a different part of my story every Sunday – last week was part one where I was diagnosed with leukaemia. Check back next week for another part of my story!