Daydreams of someday playing college football proved elusive from his hospital bed.
There were more pressing concerns after all…like surviving.
Settling back on reality, the young boy smiled as his favorite nurse entered.
Refusing to let the constant nausea damper his light, he watched her switch out the IV bag. She was one of the many bright spots in the darkness of those years.
Kids are resilient, but what long-term effect would this adult issue have?
This is my story…
What Is Leukemia?
Childhood abruptly ends when an “adult diagnosis” like blood cancer is delivered.
Accounting for 7.7% of all cases and 2% of deaths, Leukemia in children is far less common than in adults. In fact, those aged 65-74 are most frequently diagnosed.
My version was called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). A couple of years ago, I was fascinated to study it at the cellular level, but I’ll avoid getting too technical here.
Basically, my bone marrow made too many undeveloped white blood cells. Those crowded out healthy platelets along with white and red blood cells.
Common signs of this weakening:
- Easy bleeding
Recent data shows that 14.3 out of 100,000 men and women will develop this disease each year. I always joked that I never won anything except cancer.
Sorry…my humor helped me cope.
Understanding signs to watch out for, the next step is ruling out what it’s not.
How Is Leukemia Diagnosed?
Leukemia symptoms vary, but in my case it was extremely painful bone and joint pain. Some other signs include: easy bruising, looking pale, and swollen lymph nodes.
Juvenile arthritis was initially suggested as the reason behind my pain. But it was a bone marrow test that ultimately answered the question.
Specific tests to check for this cancer:
- Lumbar puncture
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
- CBC (complete blood count)
- Chest x-ray
Once the tough-to-digest diagnosis is delivered, time is of the essence to combat the internal attack. There are a number of ways this happens.
I’ll relay treatment methods next.
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Goal number one is to reach remission, which means the original signs or symptoms have gone away or are greatly reduced. Why does it receive so much attention?
The chance of recovery depends on both the speed and number of Leukemia cells present after the first month of hardcore treatment.
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Chemotherapy in conjunction with a stem cell transplant
This doesn’t include newer options like immunotherapy which haven’t quite found ready adoption…at least not yet.
Fortunately, I only had to undergo chemotherapy. Powerful drugs are injected intravenously or directly into the spine to destroy the unhealthy cells. The only problem is it also wipes out healthy cells, so blood transfusions help out.
When the aim is on childhood ALL there are three phases one must complete:
- Remission induction
They have different goals, but all are determined to prevent relapse, or a recurrence of the disease. Another common question deals with the big picture.
Is Leukemia Curable?
Looking at recent data, there’s many positives to pull from it. I’m sure you’re ready for some good news with all this cancer talk 🙂
- From 1975 to present, the death rate has decreased from 8 per 100,000 to 6 per 100,000 people
- The 5 year-survival rate has risen from 33% to 67% over the same time period!
Children have a higher survival rate, so I was fortunate to get it relatively young. Although it hasn’t been studied (to my knowledge), the carefree mentality kids have surely boosts this number.
Because how you view sickness mentally DOES have an effect on your improvement or decline.
You now know more about the disease, but beyond education I want to share its influence on my business.
The next section is devoted to that.
How Leukemia Influenced Entrepreneurship
If you’ve worked in healthcare, odds are you’ve dealt with cancer patients. Besides a family connection, my heart for those dealing with these difficulties kept me in the industry for 10 years.
Specialties I worked in:
- Radiation therapy
- Urgent care
- Medical records
Those first two allowed me countless opportunities to use my personal success story as a survivor. It brought a level of relatability that transcended business.
Once I went back to school for my marketing degree, a dream was born to incorporate all these elements. Healthcare marketing seemed like a natural fit, but the field was extremely competitive in San Diego.
Not dissuaded from someday sharing other patient stories, I sought a backdoor. A lifetime employee up to that point, the only option was to bust the door open!
Only problem was I’d never started a business. An amazing book titled “Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling From Scratch” by Laura Pennington Briggs provided a foundation.
Healthcare content writing then became the conduit for improving our world via the written word. Always a passion of mine, putting words to paper has helped me heal since the day I started my cancer journey.
Stepping out to the unknown, the unpredictable, has been stretching. But this is the path laid before me, and there’s no looking back!
Elijah Wordsmith and Leukemia
Hopefully reading a bit more about my story has encouraged you to never let your circumstances define you. Instead, use those as fuel for growth!
You’ve also learned more about a disease that affects many of your fellow human beings, and knowledge is power.
Where do you go from here if you’re a medical practice manager or physician?
Elijah Wordsmith content writing “verbalizes” the more individualized care current and prospective patients receive from your practice.
I bring a personable approach to growing your online presence, aided by modern technology and customer service sharpened while working in busy medical offices,.
Bring the human side back by sharing stories online that impacted you or your staff. And enjoy a boost in patient retention and new referrals for a “practice that truly cares.”
Take the first step towards standing out online and schedule a discovery call today!