Peter Allan
Posted by

My AML Journey

Peter Allan
Posted by
24 Mar 2016

A brief history about my journey with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, from the onset of Polycythaemia in 2008.

My AML Journey

Hello, my name is Peter Allan, I’m 63 years old and married to Judith with one son Richard. I live in The North East of England and am now retired.

My AML journey started in 2008 when I developed Polycythaemia or PV as it is known. This is a form of blood cancer where the bone marrow produces a high level of red blood cells. I was having dizzy spells for a while and it was only after a stroke that the diagnosis was made. In my case I was also producing too many white cells. My treatment for PV was phlebotomy and a drug called Hydroxycarbamide. 

In  late 2012 my PV mutated to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) with a course of chemotherapy as the treatment option. However, at this time my condition was not ready for this treatment and I was placed on “Watch & Wait” until the time was right to begin treatment. My blood was checked every two weeks, but from producing too many red and white blood cells, my marrow was not making enough red cells so a blood transfusion was required at regular intervals, approximately every fortnight. This waiting period lasted for about twelve months before going into my local hospital to begin chemotherapy. Unfortunately, after the first round of treatment, the leukaemia returned and a bone marrow transplant was the only option.

At this time, I was then transferred to Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to see if I was eligible for a transplant, fortunately I was and a search for a donor began. After a donor was found in Germany, I was admitted into hospital in December 2013 for the process to begin. Because I’d had PV and some progression to Myelofibrosis (MF) prior to AML, the treatment itself was more complicated.

Prior to the transplant itself, I went through chemotherapy to prepare my body and when all was ready, the cells were transferred into my body. The chemotherapy prior to transplant was not as bad as I initially feared and while I waited for the side effects to arrive, they never really did. After the transplant though I did find the drugs used hard to take at first, particularly Cyclosporine, which gave me very bad headaches. The next three weeks was spent recovering my immune system enough so I could return home. I did return home earlier than expected, which was a great feeling, actually only three weeks after the transplant. In the time that followed fatigue has been a big problem with many hours spent sleeping, I was even tired on getting up. This tired feeling has taken around two years to gradually recover from.

Over the next two years, my check up visits reduced from twice a week to every six months and I’m now totally drug free.  This is a wonderful feeling and I still can’t believe my luck!  Without the wonderful help from my hospital teams, both at North Tees in Stockton and the Freeman in Newcastle,  plus a donor who I do not know, I would not be here today, I owe them my life, literally.

I am now retired and life is great, my wife and I are members of a gym and swim three times a week, usually in the outside pool. We also practice tai chi about four times a week and love walking, especially over the nearby hills. My fitness is better now than for many years. 

I believe practicing meditation and visualisation prior to and since treatment, helped greatly in my recovery.  Having a very positive frame of mind is so important. I used to imagine my bone marrow perfect, with no blast cells, every day for fifteen minutes. This must have helped and I would recommend anyone going through any illness to be as positive as possible.

Lately I’ve had some skin cancer removed from my scalp and treatment for sun damage which has come to light because of a compromised immune system, but apart from this, I’m in good shape. I’m not saying that I’m cured, but in remission and so far so good.

I do hope this brief account has been of use to you and I’d be delighted to answer any questions.

Be positive



Eleanor Baggley

Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Pete. It's great to hear that everything is going so well for you at the moment, particularly after what must have been such a difficult time. Many people I've spoken to have found positive thinking to be an excellent coping mechanism and I'm really pleased that you found this to be the case also. If there's anything we can do for you please do let us know, otherwise I hope you continue to enjoy life and stay active - at least it's starting to get a bit warmer for outdoor swimming! Best wishes, Eleanor