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
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
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
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.