Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a very slow moving disease. So much so that people can be diagnosed in the very early stages but not need treatment for years. When I was diagnosed 10 years ago the disease could have been progressing for years prior to detection. One of the first questions that my doctor asked me 10 years ago was “didn’t you notice yourself getting tired?” Well of course I was getting tired. I was training for and racing marathons and Ironman triathlons. Aren’t I supposed to get tired? I do recall an Ironman race in July of 2015 where I could have seriously fallen asleep on my handlebars. I had never felt like that before but never in a million years would have thought it was anything serious.
And even though we have been closely watching and monitoring all of my flags, counts, and markers for the last 10 years, I have every reason to believe that the disease had again been moving and progressing very slowly leading up to my recent relapse and subsequent treatment. It was slowly taking things from me that I didn’t realize. It was gradually sucking the quality of life out of me in such small increments that they were barely detectable. Until I realized that I was just “off”.
I didn’t realize just how bad I felt prior to being treated until seeing how great I feel now (post treatment). I felt pretty bad. And I looked bad. My lymph nodes were enlarged everywhere. I felt like a different person. My fitness level was suffering as well and that’s what through the red flags for me. Two mile runs felt like five mile and five miles felt like a marathon. I wasn’t sure if it was all disease related or not but since all of my symptoms were coming back, I knew we needed to do something.
So many of you have been incredibly supportive over the last 4 months as I’ve cycled through as many rounds of chemo. I’m pretty damn stoked to be able to say that I learned this week that there is essentially NO evidence of disease and my treatments are done. Blood work, lymph nodes and everything else look GOOD. I’ll need to go back in a month to make sure nothing changes. But it won’t. I feel too good.
Our work here is done.
Treatment had its ups and downs and I am still adjusting to some side effects with the hope that they will eventually go away. But the bottom line is that treatment worked and it worked well. I’m in disbelief at how great I feel today. My recent runs have felt like the old Steve Brown – the pre disease Steve Brown. I feel great and I think I look like my old self again. I’m in a great place physically, mentally, and emotionally and I’m ready to attack the opportunities that lie ahead with an incredible feeling of energy, excitement, and appreciation.
I’m better, healthier, and stronger than I’ve been in a really long time.