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.

I had started with British understatement; but my story did not deserve such down-playing.

As with most folk the diagnosis came as a surprise; but not wholly unexpectedly, for there had been symptoms. I had been walking the Cotswolds Way (a UK long-distance walk from Bath – Chipping Camden in England) and despite the easy pace, for I am an experienced walker / hill climber, I found I was getting tired.  Final warning came when I nipped the skin on my arm while putting on my ruck-sac, & thought nothing of it; but by the end of the day there was a large bruise.  My wife insisted I went to my General Practitioner at home in Edinburgh.  Blood tests followed – and then an urgent summoning by phone to take great care over the weekend – and to report in person directly to the Duty Registrar at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary should I get any fever – and to attend the Professor of Haematology’s clinic on Tuesday.  I did that; received a very detailed physical exam – after which he said he reckoned he knew what it was – and was sent for, first, bone marrow extraction; and, on the day the leukaemia results were known, for a body scan (with additional dye additive?).  Of course the leukaemia diagnosis was HCL.  Unfortunately the body scan indicated that in my fairly advanced chronic state of HCL, I had also developed a cancer on my left kidney: but a very early diagnosed one.  Once I ceased being neutropoenic, I had a nephrectomy.

I am now in remission & am cured of the kidney cancer; but that is the happy outcome of what was a hard two weeks at diagnosis time: very hard.  To celebrate in 2005, I cycled from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Santiago de Compostella in Spain (1,600 miles) to raise funds for a suitable charity called LeuKidS – leukaemia & kidney cancers, Scotland.  Any philanthropist may help LeuKidS by sending a donation to LeuKidS, c/o the Royal Bank of Scotland (Bank Sort Code 83 18 25), Bruntsfield Branch, 206 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4DF, for the credit of account no. 00649618.  My story: my appeal.

yours aye Mike Coates, BA, Ll.B, Writer to the Signet.