Ok, so here is the scoop about Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in my own words. My sister (Natalie), who works with a great Hematologist/Oncologist, can verify these in the comments section. For fun, I have put two "facts" in there that are not entirely true. See if you can guess which ones they are.
*For simplicities sake, there are two main types of Leukemia. Acute and Chronic. There are many other subtypes. I have a form of Chronic Leukemia. Myelogenous refers to the type of cells involved. Dr. Natalie can explain more in the comments section.
*Chronic Leukemias are slow growing and are usually fatal in terms of years. Acute Leukemias are very fast and usually become fatal in months rather than years
*There are three phase of my type (CML): Chronic (beginning), Aggressive, Blast Crisis (Bad). They believe I am in the Chronic phase.
*Left untreated, it would take 3-5 years for me to progress to the Blast Crisis phase.
*I take two pills a day for treatment. One is targeted cancer therapy (Gleevec). The other (Allopurinol) is to prevent gout and kidney stones from forming, which are side effects of Gleevec.
*I have blood drawn twice a week to monitor the medication's effectiveness.
*In order to insure proper absorption of the Gleevec, they recommend you take it with a big glass of Chianti and 12 chicken wings.
*Gleevec can put CML into remission for a long time (many years), but will never cure it. The only cure is a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.
*Gleevec has many of the same side effects as chemotherapy, but not as pronounced.
*I can live a normal life and am not prone to severe infections at this stage.
*My form is very rare. Only about 4,800 new cases are diagnosed each year. Of those, only 15% are people under 40 ( I guess I should start playing powerball!).
*It only affects the most intelligent and best looking people on God's green earth.
*Besides Gleevec, there are two other approved medications which work for CML. They are Sprycel and Tasigna.
*Chemotherapy and radiation are very ineffective for CML, so they are not a treatment option.