About ALL

Two days before I started my treatment, the nurse handed my a binder affectionately and practically named "The Leukemia Binder." Pretty self explanatory. Supposedly, this binder has everything I could ever want to know - and NOT want to know - about Leukemia and chemotherapy in neatly organized chapters and color-coded dividers.

"Leukemia is a type of cancer that starts in the soft, inner part of the bones (bone marrow) but often moves quickly into the blood. It can then spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, the spleen, liver, central nervous system and other organs. In contrast, other types of cancer start in these organs and then spread to the bone marrow (or elsewhere). Those cancers are not leukemia. Both children and adults can develop leukemia."

"'Acute' means that the cancer develops quickly, and if not treated, could be fatal in a few months. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer that starts from the cells that normally develop into blood cells. The rapidly growing cancer cells crowd out normal bone marrow cells."

"'Chronic' means that the cancer is slow growing and which causes a gradual onset of symptoms. Chronic leukemia cells look mature, but they are not really normal and they can't fight infection the way they should.

These cancer cells live too long, build up, and crowd out normal bone marrow cells."

"Leukemia is a complex disease with many different types and sub-types. The kind of treatment given and the outlook for the person with leukemia vary greatly according to the exact time and other factors.

"Most cases of leukemia can be sorted into 1 of the 4 main types:

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) - (That's mine! Isn't it cute!)
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

"Your doctor will do a blood test to look at your blood under a microscope to determine if you have abnormal blood cells. A bone marrow sample may be done to find out what kind of leukemia you have."

If you ever thought that getting blood drawn is ookie and gross, you have never had a bone marrow biopsy. It is unpleasant, to say the least.

Ok, it's not quite like that, but yes, they do take a piece of your bone. It sucks.