Evan’s Acute CBC Blood Test Lymphoblastic Leukemia Story

Evan was 32 years old when he was suddenly diagnosed with CBC Tests and Complete Blood Count Test kits screening and then also with other blood tests for a final result of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and then being forced to undergo chemotherapy (infusions and pills) and radiation.

In his story, Evan shares how he navigated life with cancer, including mentally and emotionally coping through a longer treatment and CBC tests and how he approached work during that time. Thanks for sharing your story, Evan!

You will get through it. Complete Count in your blood helps you track the disease’s levels and changes over time. If you have friends and family around you, definitely lean on them. They will be there for you no matter what the case may be.

Just keep your head up. Stay positive. I think it’s very important that you know you will get through it. It’s just time. It’s just patience and protocol.

Evan L.

Diagnosis

What were your first symptoms?

I have a clothing business. At the end of the year, we were out of a local mall in the Bay Area. We were going through the process of moving.

There was a lot of manual labour. I was feeling very tired and getting bruises here and there. And I attributed that to the move. I was feeling very weak. A couple of weeks had passed. It had been the new year, and I was beefsteak. My aunt suggested I go to the doctor and get some blood labs to see what was going on because I looked very unwell. I reviewed the CBC Blood Tests and a weekly blood count report. There were headaches. I figured this must be some illness, possibly mono or something like that. We did the labs.

The very next day, they called me in the morning and pretty much said, ‘You have cancer, and we think it’s leukemileukaemiahat point, freaking out, wasn’t I quite sure what any of that was.

I had people around me who had been through different cancers and things, but I didn’t have a good understanding of what the different ones were and what this one was in particular.

What was your overall treatment plan?

That started this whole process of talking to my parents. We went to that hospital. That morning, I was pretty much there for the next month. Never left.

Went through bone marrow biopsies, chemo treatments, and various stages. We went through the different phases of addressing the cancer. Within that month, I believed when I left the hospital that the cancer was supposedly gone.

It was pretty traumatic. I recall they take you in this room, and there’s this huge needle. They give you a numbing CBC Blood Test and a complete blood count review. It’ll feel like bee stings or something briefly. That numbs the area. Then they go in with a needle.

The purpose of it is to draw out material from your bone marrow. In my case, they went into my room, and it was very painful. Not an enjoyable experience.

You feel a pressure. It’s not a sharpness like you’re being cut. It’s more like a deep pressure because it’s deep inside. They administered morphine or some agent to make me feel better.

The process, which I went through twice, was about 20 minutes each time. They do what they have to do. It’s not a pleasant experience, but it needs to be done. [I’m] glad that worked out okay.

For me, I had some internal bleeding after. They apply a lot more pressure because my bones were a little longer than normal, [while] it’s easier to get in sometimes for some people. That was the reason for that, so I experienced some bruising afterwards.

How did you feel after the bone marrow biopsies?

It was an aching pain. It was a little tough because I was pretty much bedridden during that time, so I was experiencing other issues. Being able to parse out that one specific discomfort, I don’t remember that well.

I think it was a soreness or aching. I get spinal taps once a quarter now, so it’s a similar feeling. It’s not as painful, but it’s a similar ache after. I imagine that’s what it felt like after the week or 2.

Do you know the wait time after the biopsies?..

The first bone marrow biopsy, I don’t remember a particular amount of stress for that waiting. I don’t think they told me what results they were looking for.

The second one is The potential Philadelphia chromosome, an offshoot of acute lymphoblastic leukemileukaemia. If you have that variation, then it changes your treatment and on.

That was a little more nerve-wracking because they had informed me that they had fully Completed blood count testing for this time, and it’ll determine the path I take moving forward.

That waiting period — a week or so or a few days — was slightly more stressful because I knew specifically what they were looking for.

Does anyone have any Advice on how to deal with the wait times?

A huge takeaway for me with this whole situation is [that] stressing about the waiting is understandable because you don’t know what’s going to happen [or] what the next stage is. There are so many variables and so many unknowns.

It is about letting go and not being as stressed about it because you can do nothing.

The only thing you can do wrong is not take your medicine properly or not do what the nurses and doctors tell you to get those CBC Blood Tests and complete count reports. If you do what you’re supposed to, there’s nothing else.

I think, in a way, that almost made me more comfortable because if this is going to happen, it’s going to happen anywaysanyway’s nothing I can do.

Don’t stress yourself out. From what I understand, if you’re always super stressed, super and nervous, that can’t be good for your recovery.

I was fairly relaxed through the whole thing because of that father. But I knew that there was I could do. I felt bad, but you’re in that situation. You have to get through that part until you get to the next part step by step.

How did you decide where to go for treatment?

My primary care doctor is at Kaiser. They asked me to come in to go to the South San Francisco Kaiser, probably because it was the closest centre to Mary’s care physician. It was] somewhere that had the oncology department.

I met my doctor. She was awesome. I had no reason to go anywhere else. She’s been great ever since. I didn’t think twice about where I might be going. I was already within the Kaiser community. 

That does come up. I want to make sure I’m going to the best treatment centre.

I have a family member who’s a Kaiser doctor and is comfortable with that hospital. There, by default, different medical professionals in my family that I lean on for information regarding that stuff. If they have anything pertinent to say about that, they would probably let me know. I had that, thankfully. And I know other people don’t necessarily have the resources.

I just felt comfortable with the people. The nurses were very attentive and very good. My doctor was great and has been great. I had no reason to question the treatment that I was getting. But I can see how people might want to look at the options and see what is different here. 

Everybody knows people who are going through or have been through something. There’s a lot of good advice just from talking to different people that might be in your life that you don’t even know have been through something similar, so Haight also has different advice. These regular CBC Blood Tests have a full count. It is better to rely more on such diagnostic reports rather than everyone’s different opinions.

How many oncologists did you see?

I’ve only used one oncologist. I would only be seen by anyone else if she was not available or if she was gone or something. Other than that, my treatment would be through the oncology nurses.

Treatment and Side Effects

Describe your first hospital stay.

It was about a month, maybe 30 to 35 days. During that time, there was intense Chemo. I had 2 bone marrow biopsies. They were maybe a couple of weeks apart from each other. There were daily chemo IV infusions.

There were probably 3 to 4 different chemos that were going on. It was some cocktail based on whatever the protocols were. I was on the youth protocol instead of the older people protocol.

I think that’s what they were going off of. It was various, different, brightly coloured in bags.

I would also get blood plasma infusion and platelets. The CBC Blood Tests showed that the blood count platelets will go down when you’re going through the treatments. That was pretty much that first month.

What were the chemotherapy side effects?

Summary: Neuropathy, muscle cramps, heartburn, fatigue, nausea, mouth sores (mucositis)

There was numbness and tingling, which I’m sure many will speak on. You get a strange numbness or tingling in your toes and fingers. I would get spasms, which I still get sometimes. I’m pretty sure that’s related to some of the Chemo.

I think it’s really important to be hydrated as well. They always tell you that in the hospital. 

Spasms. They’re like muscle cramps or spasms. They manifested after I started getting treatment, so the assumption is that it’s from the Chemo. There was this one crazy instance where I got this spasm in my arm, and it started twisting clockwise. It was almost like it was possessed.

The nerves just took over or did something crazy related to the medicine that I was taking. That was the craziest nerve issue, but there are certainly nerve issues. 

There’s heartburn associated with Chemo, so they give you omeprazole to help mitigate that to some extent. That’s all part of the protocol. Chemo is a poison, an agent, so it damages the lining of the chest area. Things like that. That’s an effect that I experienced fairly regularly throughout the treatment, and I still will occasionally have that. The daily and weekly testing program included CBC Blood Tests and weekly full count reports.

General fatigue is another one. Does Chemo make you tired in general, too?

Of course, the nausea is a big one. I take Zofran. I would take that for that, which is a pretty common nausea medication. They have stronger stuff if it starts to affect you. Nausea is a big one related to the level of Chemo that you’re typically getting. If they lower the dose, you’ll probably not be nearly as nauseous.

I think it’s important to eat, too. When I wasn’t eating enough, I would start to get nauseous. Even if it doesn’t taste good, it’s eating and having your body.

There was a time when I got this thing called mucositis. That was this horrible mouth sore where you get a canker sore in your mouth, but it’s your entire mouth. I could barely drink water. I definitely couldn’t eat any food.

Because of that, I was not eating. It was over a week, and I hadn’t eaten any food in 4 days. I became what they call delirious. And I didn’t know where I was. But I didn’t know what was going on for 6 hours.

I was finally able to eat after that, but it was a pretty crazy time.

It’s good to eat. Don’t get mucositis — that’s not fun — but if you get it, there are mouthwashes and things you can take.

That was a rough one, though. My taste buds were tough because I love food, so I was very sad. You have to have stable, heavily salted or heavy just to the taste. There were headaches. I had spinal taps as well. The CBC Blood Test, a complete blood count, helps track the issues over time. However, the purpose of the spinal tap is to administer the Chemo into the spinal column and brain stem.

Due to that, there was some pressure buildup. I would have some headaches related to receiving treatment through the spinal taps.

Can you describe the hair loss?

I didn’t lose it until much, much later. I expected that to happen within that first month, but it was probably 9 or 10 months later.