Survivor Andrew Schorr on Leukemia

MD Anderson Cancer Center
Date: July 2010


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>> I've always been a runner. And so I would go jogging and I started to feel that my nose was running. When I put my hand up to my nose, you know, in the colder weather and it wasn't just a runny nose it was blood, pretty scary. So I went to my primary care doctor and he said, "Oh it's probably just something we can cauterize." and looks at my nose and then I remember vividly he says, "There is nothing that I see but let's do a blood test. It's probably nothing I'll only call you if it's something serious." This doctor would never call you, you know, you never hear from him and then the next day the phone rang. And he said, "Oh its Dr. Littlewood on the phone." And I thought "Oh my goodness." He said, "How do you feel?" I said” I feel fine.” He said, "That's not the answer I wanna hear because if you feel fine and your blood count is high, my white blood count from the blood test, then it's something serious." I said "What could it be?" he said, "It could be leukemia."


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>> I was given this diagnosed and I haven't told anybody. How am I gonna tell my wife? I was 46-years-old and two young children. So I call her and I say "I need to see you at home, come home early." which was unusual for me from work. And it was a nice spring day and I said, "Let's take a walk." and I remember just thinking that our future had been ripped away from us. And of course she cried and I cried and we held hands and we didn't know how many more walks we'd have like that.

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>> So there I was living on an island right next to the Seattle Mercer Island, Washington. Didn't know really anything about leukemia, had never been to an oncology center, didn't really understand even that leukemia was a cancer. I'd never been to Houston and I'd never heard of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. But suddenly the other patients I was communicating with on the e-mail started mentioning it. Well, you know there are specialists in this form of leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and you would do well to consult with one of them, you might consider going to MD Anderson because they had. And so we said duh, of course we're going there. And so we made plane reservation at Houston, they put us in touch with MD Anderson. And before we knew it my wife and I were on the plane coming down to Houston.


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>> First of all coming to MD Anderson and before you walk in the door you're terrified 'cause you're suddenly a cancer patient and you don't know what that means. But the moment you walk into MD Anderson the fear just kind of starts to fade away 'cause it is not a down place. And there are some very sick people certainly who come from all over the world but it is a very hopeful, very upbeat place. People greet you, there is a warmth. And I felt that immediately that helped my wife and my self tremendously.


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>> I saw a world renowned doctor Michael Keating, who I've heard about but never met. He is bigger than life, comes in the room immediately gives me a big bear hug, gives my wife, Ester, a big bear hug and sat down and went over the results and he said "Relax." and that began further to take the fear away. After visiting with Dr. Keating he felt that in my case it was so early that I did not need treatment right away and that there was some percentage of patients as they were learning at that time, 1996, a small percentage might never need treatment. And it wasn't clear yet whether I was in that group or that I would need treatment but didn't need it yet. And he said, "I don't think you need treatment now. We're gonna keep monitoring you and when you do need treatment I believe we'll have other options beyond what we have now." So and then, Ester, my wife pipes up and said "Well, we have two children, you're telling us we do have a future, we'd always thought of having a third child." He gives her a big bear hug as Dr. Keating does and said, "Ester, go have your baby." So I'm a 12-year leukemia survivor and we have an 11-year-old boy, Aton, and I was diagnosed on April 9th 1996, Aton was born on April 9th 1997. We call him the miracle baby.


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