Submissions to “Patients’ Stories” cannot be verified for their accuracy. They do not necessarily represent validated medical research. The reader should understand that these stories represent only the opinions of the authors and not the Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation.
This is a good news story that went from diagnosis to full recovery in a matter of 3-4 weeks.
I live in Perth, Western Australia and I had been feeling rather tired but put it down to just getting older (this was in 2003 and I was 51 years old). My wife suggested that I should go and have a check up anyway. I did this and the local doctor told me I had an enlarged spleen (he could feel it) and referred me to have some ultrasounds and blood tests taken. Three days later he called me to say that he had diagnosed HCL. I was stunned and immediately started to say things such as ” How long have I got”. I also told the Doctor I needed it fixed in a month as I was going away on an annual fishing trip. The Doc was excellent and explained that although he had never had a case of HCL before his research told him that “If you are ever going to have Leukemia this is the one to get”. He referred me to a specialist who took a bone marrow biopsy. This was taken from my lower back under a local anesthetic and was quite painful. The next day the specialist called me and told me he was going to start me on a course of treatment and that I could have this done in my home. This treatment was Cladribine (2Cda). The visiting nurse gave me an injection in the stomach once a day for 5 days straight. The first 2 days were fine but after that I feel quite weak and unable to move far without needing to rest. The specialist advised that the danger at this time was getting infection from another disease as my white cells were destroyed by the Cladribine. From about day 7 I could feel myself getting stronger each day. After another 2 weeks I went back for another blood test and was told that my blood counts were all back to normal and there was no sign of HCL. I then went on my fishing trip and felt 100%.
I will have to thank both the local GP and the Oncology specialist for their very efficient diagnosis and treatment plan. During the initial diagnosis phase I still went to work in the office and it was only during the 3 weeks of treatment and recovery that I missed work
Since then I have had annual blood tests and there has been no sign of HCL. So all in all my experience with HCL was quick and painless (except the bone marrow biopsy).
David Adams, 2006