Sunday, July 6, 2008


Let me take two or three steps back in history to the August of 2004.

It was a rosy period in life, just out of college, I had gained the prized entrance to the university of my choice after scoring reasonable marks at the A/Ls. Certainly, all was looking bright as I was waiting with much glee to celebrate the fast approaching birthday, which would signify that I’d have spent two fun-filled decades on this lovely planet.

I was a fit and healthy 19 year old, who’d never smoked, touched alcohol or anything else. I had no family history of cancer and no illness to note other than an occasional cough or cold. It was just such a cough that prompted my family practitioner to urge me to do a routine Full Blood Count (FBC) just in case. Being ever wiser than the doctor, or at least thinking so, I never got around to do the FBC until about three months later. And that was out of mere idleness, cause I had only gone to the hospital accompanying a family member. Anyway, that was where the whole bandwagon started.

Next day the lab called up (my parents) to say that my blood count was slightly abnormal and they’d like to do some further investigations using the remaining sample. These were done, and in a very hush hush manner I was brought to the medical centre for an Ultra Sound scan.

The results were… not bad, but definitely not good either. My FBC had WBC of 87 K/uL of which normally should be between (5-12), among other reports the blood picture was reported as “marked polymorphonuclear leucocytosis” and the NAP score was low.

Like you, at that time for me also these were only a bunch of letters thrown together and a number in front of them. Made no sense at all, so what was there to worry about. I was all amused to see the grown ups worried, and trying to hide that from me.

Another bunch of tests followed, of which the Bone Marrow Biopsy taken from my hip bone, well yes it was painful, even under local anaesthesia, having a large needle jabbed into your bone, lots of pushing and sucking to obtain a piece of bone marrow. But the Doctor was very kind and before the procedure he laughingly told me that in the years past they used to take this sample from your breast bone! Ugh! That’s all.

I also visited the Uber-cool Genetech to have my chromosomes checked and ultimately consulted another doctor with all these findings. He turned out to be an oncologist. He examined me, looked at my reports, and prescribed some medicine for me, giving further instructions to my father on how to obtain it, while I was shepherded out of the room.

That’s when I started using my mental faculties and with a medical student friend I had, came up on what was wrong with me. Which I confirmed by asking my Bone Marrow doctor. I had been diagnosed with CML - Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. The Philadelphia chromosome positive type, my friend was quick to add. For that was treatable though it could not be cured and had a better outcome.

So, cancer at 20! It was shaping up to be a mighty interesting life!

P.S.- My handle “Philadelphian” stems from that. The fact that I have a Philadelphia chromosome positive type of CML


  1. Just to say Hi! Hang in there!

  2. Hi back
    I'm not hanging on 'ks', I'm well over it, balancing on it and eating a tuna sandwich with consummate ease!

  3. Hey Philadelphian, I'm enjoying your blog. I was 22 when I got the Hodgkin's Lymphoma stamp. Sounds like you're healthy and using your diagnosis to your advantage, nice work!



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