Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

More thoughts on this seven-year path

In the spring of 2001, my mother was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. At the time, she didn't need treatment; she was healthy, in what they called "stage zero," and there was nothing specific that immediately needed to be combatted. She might never need treatment, or the disease might progress to a point where she needed to be treated.

Since then, my family has helped raise awareness and funds in several ways, and I'd like to thank all of you who've shared your supportive thoughts and prayers, or made a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or other cancer charities. Donating money to combat illness is often an abstract concept. Even if we know someone with a disease, it's hard to contemplate a donation to a particular organization and imagine, never mind pinpoint, a specific positive outcome.

Well, last year, my mother's white blood cell counts showed that her leukemia had progressed to the point where her doctors felt she needed to begin a course of treatment. She began a course of chemotherapy that wasn't pleasant, but wasn't nearly as debilitating or traumatic has the treatments we know some folks go through.

The treatment my mother has been receiving did not exist when she was diagnosed, just a few years ago. It was developed by a researcher whose work has been significantly funded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This morning, before beginning a fourth round of chemotherapy (she'd been told she'd need four to six rounds), my mother was told that the results of last week's blood test showed that she doesn't need further treatment at this time. Her white counts may start to rise again in the future; the tests show she's in blood remission, but not necessarily marrow remission. She may need treatment again down the road. But for now, she's in remission.

We're incredibly lucky and blessed that my mother has mostly enjoyed good health and that her treatment has been so successful. It's remarkable to me that we can look back at the last few years and know that our efforts, our fundraising, our donations have directly helped. Not helped abstract people. Helped my mother. Your dollars and my dollars have made a difference in cancer treatment for real people over the span of just a few years.

As I said this morning, we're celebrating! Meantime, there are too many more people who need such luck, and such blessings. My family members will keep walking and spreading the word. Let's keep helping. Thank you!

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