Jaques
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The start of the beginning

Jaques
Posted by
18 Mar 2015

At the beginning of February, I was at my absolute happiest. With two beautiful girls of 12 and 22 I decided to bite the bullet and open my own hair salon. I had spent the last 7 years re-training and pushing myself to the limit in terms of work. I specialised in hair extensions and had finally found my knish.

In preparation for the salon I endured 6 months of physically and mentally hard work and this was all despite having a feeling that my health was not at its best.

My official opening day was 3rd February 2015, I received my diagnosis on 6th !!

I am 41 years old,  a non-smoker, a moderate drinker and a very healthy eater. I am also someone who likes to keep fit, however, I had got to the point that I couldn't even walk a flight of stairs without feeling I needed to sit down to catch my breath. I kept telling myself, "something's not quite right, i'm 41 not 81!" I sure did feel the latter.

A month or so before Christmas, I went to the doctors with a list of ailments as long as my arm. I felt embarrased and was almost laughing to myself as I told the doctor my symptoms: Tired, bloated, headaches nearly every day, restless legs and I couldn't eat more than 4 mouthfuls of food without feeling bloated. I had all of a sudden started to get really bad night sweats and began to think it was the menopause ...

The doctor told me it sounded like I was stressed and said I should rest and take it easy. Well that was not an option.

I got through Christmas and looking back, this was exactly what I did "got through" I wasn't myself, I was so tired and had caught the flu which lasted 4 weeks or so. At one point I literally could not get out of bed.

New Year came and I concentrated on opening my shop. I look back now and realise I must have been on autopilot. After Christmas I decided to stop drinking completely and put myself on a gluten free diet to try and work out why I was so bloated all the time. This had very little effect and my husband forced me to go back to the doctors. In fact we nearly fell out over the topic. I didn't want to go but he insisted and asked me every day whether I had made my appointment. I eventually gave in, thank goodness he was so persistent.

I was sent for a blood test right away and although I was expecting something to show up, the reaction of the hospital when they called me that very same evening was a total surprise.

They asked me to go to hospital right away. You can imagine my worry but for some strange reason I refused. I knew something was up and if i'm honest I wasn't quite ready to hear it.

In the morning, after very little sleep, I went to hospital and had my blood test retaken. I was seen within half an hour of my test. At the end of my appointment, I was told I had CML. As the words left the doctors mouth, I was watching the movement of his lips but found my head elsewhere, anywhere apart from this room, with these people and hearing the strangest words. I had no idea what CML was but there were three initial questions and in this order: Am I going to die, are my children at risk and will I loose my hair? I think this is a pretty standard reaction.

It has been 6 weeks since my diagnosis. At first I was entangled in the stream of medical appointments. It was like I was on a conveyabelt but strangely, while I was going to the hospital, I felt safe.

I have remained positive right from the beginning and this is mainly down to the doctors' enthusiasm and positivity. They have explained how far research has enabled medicine to come and that I should be able to live a fairly normal life. I soaked this positivity up like a sponge and although it is early days, I feel good about the future. I am responding well to the medication and am back at the gym. I have more energy now than I have had in well over a year. I absolutely, completely and utterly refuse to let this stop me doing the things I love and although a cliche, this has made me look at life differently.

Of course I get stressed and emotional at times but I make sure that it is short lived as it really is a waste of energy, energy that I need to stay  strong, physically and mentally.

Breaking news is that I have signed up to Tough Mudder which is a 10 mile obstacle course. I am being joined by 10 of my friends to raise money for LLR and I will keep you updated on training and how it goes. Note, I have never ever run more than 3 miles before... May I ask that you all wish me luck because I really am going to need it!!!

Comments

20.03.2015

Jackie thank you so much for being brave enough to share the experience of your diagnosis with us. It sounds like you've adjusted really, really well all things considered and I have nothing but admiration for you taking on the Tough Mudder inspite of the CML.

I actually think having something like Tough Mudder to work towards will really help you take your mind off the CML and allow you to channel your energy in a positive way. It certainly helped me having the marathon to train for whilst I was undergoing treatment in the build up to my bone marrow transplant.

It sounds like you've also got a really strong support base thanks to your doctor, friends and family but if you need any additional support we're here to help in any way that we can. 

Stay in touch and thanks again for getting in touch - you're a real inspiration to other patients!

Anonymous
22.03.2015

Your story is inspiring and although I don't have CML I can appreciate how you feel as I suffer with PV and have recently had bladder cancer.. I like you will not give up and although at the moment I am feeling 81 rather than nearly 41, you have inspired me to ensure I keep focussed on the positives! Well done you for signing up for the Tough Mudder, I'll be sticking to a flat 10K in September with a 5k next week! Please do share your fundraising page with us all and well done you for sharing your story!

Anonymous
22.03.2015

Good for you Jaques! I'm so impressed that you have taken on this huge challenge after such a difficult few months and your diagnosis. Brilliant! Your positive outlook and strength will, I'm sure, help you through your treatment - and the Tough Mudder! Do you have a fundraising page set up yet?

Anonymous
22.03.2015

Thank you Jaques brought back memories of the night my teenage daughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia in early July last year. She's very brave and is now on maintenance treatment at home. Keeping positive helped us to cope with what followed.

Anonymous
23.03.2015

Thanks Andy..

Wow a marathon! not sure I could do that! although you never know...;-)

I know I am only at the very beginning but hope me and other patients can stay strong throughout...

Anonymous
23.03.2015

You are a really brave woman.even through I have been diagnosed with cml for a year now, I don't think am as strong as you are.I really admire your courage. Keep it up!

23.03.2015

Good Luck - my husband was diagnosed in Feb with CML

24.03.2015

We spoke on the phone this week Jackie - it was an honour to speak to you. Your drive and positivity is amazing. Thansk for sharing your story with us and all the best with Tough Mudder. I look forward to hearing about your training... All the best, Jason.

24.03.2015

Well done Louise for not giving up and good luck with the 5k next week. I hope I continue to be as focused as you nearer to the tough mudder date.

24.03.2015

Thank you Jenny. Yes my page is setup now on my profile /jfdi-team-tough-mudder-sept-27th-2015

Just hope I find the strength to complete it ;-)

24.03.2015

Thank you Seun. I don't think I am any different to anyone else and believe we are all fighters. We can do this together!