Worldwide Sites
Contact
Find A Church
Documents & Lists
Site Settings
LogoHome My Church   Daily Walk     Bulletin   Events   e-Library   Order  中文 
e-Library Home |  Browse By Category |  Study the Bible |  Read the Bible    
 (Manna 57: Christians in the Community)
Overcoming Leukemia with God
TOC | Previous | Next

Overcoming Leukemia with God

Wendy Leacock—Leicester, UK

IN THE BEGINNING

There are some people who visit the doctor for little ailments or even go to the hospital for cuts and bruises. I am not one of these people. I cannot even remember the last time I went to see a doctor or even the last time I went to the hospital (apart from giving birth to my son).

But during the latter part of 2007, I was constantly falling ill—having colds, feeling under the weather, and not being able to fully recover. I also suffered from recurring mouth ulcers, which were very painful and took a long time to heal. During those months, I felt tired and lethargic all the time. Because of the mouth ulcers, I was not able to eat properly and therefore gradually lost weight.

I have a young family, so I did not really think anything of these symptoms—I thought that I was just getting tired from working and looking after my small son. My family, church members, and even colleagues at work became very worried about my weight loss and asked me to have a blood test to determine the underlying problem.

Towards the end of November, I went to my GP for a blood test. The next day the hospital rang to tell me the results of the blood test, saying that my white blood cell count was a bit low and that I was also a bit anemic, so they asked me to go in for further tests. At the hospital, the doctors gave me another blood test and I was sent home.

The hospital rang me the following day saying that the results from the blood test were the same as before and they wanted me to have a bone marrow aspirate to determine what was wrong with me. Bone marrow aspiration is the removal of a sample of bone marrow fluid, which can be looked at under the microscope or tested in other ways.

A few days after having the bone marrow aspirate done, I received a call from the hospital. The doctor asked me to come to the hospital the next day, preferably accompanied by someone, to receive the results of the tests. After hearing this, my heart felt very heavy and troubled because deep down I knew it must be something serious. My husband and I knelt down to pray, and we asked God to give us peace and comfort so that we would be able to accept whatever results the doctor had.

THE FATEFUL NEWS

On December 1, 2007, a Sabbath day, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Normally, blood cells are made in the bone marrow in an orderly and controlled way. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), this process is out of control and many abnormal leukemia cells are made. These cells are immature and aren’t able to develop into normal functioning blood cells.

The immature cells fill up the bone marrow, taking up space that is needed to make normal blood cells. Some leukemia cells “spill over” into the blood and circulate around the body in the bloodstream. These leukemia cells are not mature and thus do not work properly. This leads to an increased risk of infection as well as symptoms such as anemia and bruising caused by fewer healthy red blood cells and platelets being made.

When the consultant gave my husband and me the news, I really didn’t know what to think. I just felt numb and thought, “This is not happening to me.” Although she was talking to me, part of me did not want to believe the news.

She informed me that I would need to undergo chemotherapy and would have to stay in the hospital for a few months. I told her that it would be difficult as my little boy was only one and a half years old, but she told me that my husband would have to look after the family. I was not to worry about this and should concentrate on getting well.

As a mother and wife, it was difficult to stop worrying, so I suggested that my husband and son move in temporarily with my parents to give each other support and stability for my son. The consultant told me that I would need to stay in the hospital that same day. I informed her that I would return after I had been to church for Sabbath. We returned home to pack and also to break the news to my parents, which I was dreading. Thank God they both took it very well and were very calm, saying that everything is in God’s hands. Their attitude comforted me a great deal.

An announcement was made after Sabbath service regarding my illness, but miraculously my husband and I were the ones comforting members who were saddened by this news. I felt a sense of calm in my heart and told some sisters not to worry and that I was in God’s hands. At that moment in time, I really felt God giving me and my husband strength in order to comfort the brethren. God gave me an inner peace to face up to reality. Negative thoughts never crossed my mind.

MY JOURNEY TO RECOVERY

I started chemotherapy on December 3 and stayed in the hospital for approximately four weeks. During this time, because of my weight loss, a feeding tube, which went down from my nose to my stomach, was inserted to ensure that I had sufficient caloric intake. By the end of the four weeks, I had regained my weight and was allowed home to rest before the next phase of treatment.

In total I have received four courses of chemotherapy, and each time God has been merciful and gracious to me. The most common side effects to chemotherapy are hair loss, nausea, and vomiting. Apart from losing my hair, I did not suffer from any other side effects, which made my treatment smoother and more bearable.

My stay in the hospital was a very trying experience. I had to stay for up to four to five weeks at a time whilst undergoing treatment and waiting for recovery before I was allowed home. This was truly a test of faith and patience. To pass the time, I would read the Bible and sing hymns. Singing hymns always lifted my spirit and made my heart joyful.

My biggest concern throughout this time was the welfare of my little boy and how he would cope without me. Looking back, my son had always been a contented, happy child. When I became ill, I understood that God knew what lay ahead of me, so He gave my husband and me a son who would not make us worry.

When I was in the hospital, he would happily come and visit me and would be calm when saying goodbye to me. At home he sometimes asked for me, but, when told “Mummy is in the hospital,” he would be fine and did not make a fuss. This gave me peace knowing that my son was all right without me. Whenever I was allowed home to rest between treatments, my son would grasp hold of the opportunity and sit and tell me everything (in his own babble). I truly give thanks to God for such an amazing little boy.

During those few months of chemotherapy, I received many well wishes and cards from brethren all over the world. I was and still am deeply touched by the intercessory prayers that brethren have made on my and my family’s behalf. These prayers gave us the strength and comfort to overcome this illness. I ask that God remember all your love.

I have completed my chemotherapies and am resting at home to regain my strength and energy. I am now fully recovered, and my blood results have all returned to their normal levels. I have monthly clinic appointments at the hospital where they take blood tests, and the consultant checks on how I am doing. They will continue to monitor me for about two years.

This life-changing experience reminds me how fragile life is. I want to grasp hold of the opportunity to work more for God and repay His love, grace, and mercy to me and my family. God has shown me such merciful grace that I cannot but share this wonderful testimony with brethren. I have once again strengthened my relationship with God. I pray that I will not waste this new life that I have been given. Please continue to pray for me and my family.

May all glory be unto His holy name. Amen.

 

PDF Download
Print
Email
Feedback