Jennie's Leukemia Story

In the beginning of March 2018, I started to notice being out of breath, I just assumed it was from working a lot and being tired out. I was leaving for Florida and I got a really bad cold, again being a teacher I wasn’t surprised. The cold got worse& then it seemed as I was getting over it another cold with other symptoms would hit. Continually feeling like I had a bad cold & being out of breath more and more. I started to think it was the flu, I pushed myself because I was on vacation and wanted to enjoy it. But after flying home and driving for about 2 hours home I went to the hospital, I wanted to get better so I could get back to work. The doctor told me it sounds like the flu.. he could do blood work but it would just show my white blood cells lower than usual. He did say if I’m not feeling better in a week or so make an appointment with my family doctor. That comment would end up saving my life. I went on with my week, after working a half day and standing for recess duty was extremely difficult for me I called my family doctor as I knew there would be a wait & got an appointment for a week later. I continued to try and work a couple half days & tutor but found standing for any length of time extremely difficult. I explained everything to my doctor, I even wrote up a little timeline week by week of how I was feeling. I got blood work done & on March 29th my family doctor came to my house and told me they found Leukaemia cells in my blood. I was told my haemoglobin was dangerously low and I needed to go & get a blood transfusion. I broke down immediately as I had never had a health problem before and now I was being told I was very sick. 

The days to come were filled with tests to find out I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, Philadelphia chromosome-positive (which is a mutation in my chromosomes). I then went through induction chemo where I spent 38 days in the hospital, after thankfully getting into remission. The next 1.5 months I was in and out of the hospital every other week having to stay in for about 4 days at a time to receive more chemotherapy. Due to the fact that I was Philadelphia chromosome-positive I was more likely to relapse so it was suggested that I receive a bone marrow transplant. I was blessed to have my younger sister as my donor, I was given high-intensity chemotherapy and radiation to kill my bone marrow/ immune system in order to make way for my sisters. On July 27, 2018, I received the transplant, which is very similar to receiving a blood transfusion. I am now about 7 months post-transplant and thriving. 

I didn’t realize how much of cancer is mental and since starting to feel better physically I have been struggling to find my new normal. You don’t just go back to the way it used to be, there is a lot that needs to be managed and I feel I am on a different path in life than I was pre-diagnosis. I try my best every day to be open with others and have an understanding of what they have been through. I don’t sweat the small things and have learnt the importance of enjoying life day to day. 

Instagram: jenniegrif

Leave a comment