On May 29, 2013, my husband Joel went to the doctor for pain in his shoulder, headaches and swollen lymph nodes. He was treated with antibiotics for lymphadenitis. While at the doctor's office, they decided to do blood work and a CBC (Complete Blood Count) was ordered. On May 30, 2013, Joel received a call from the doctor's office that his WBC (White Blood Count) was extremely elevated and his RBC (Red Blood Cells) were abnormal. A normal WBC ranges from 4,000-10,000, Joel's was 92,000. On the phone call he was instructed to report to St. Vincent's hospital in Little Rock, AR immediately for admission. Upon admission, subsequent tests, scans and another CBC was ordered. In 24 hours, his WBC had jumped to 110,000. At this time, a hematologist oncologist (a doctor who specializes in blood disorders/blood cell cancers) was consulted and a bone marrow biopsy was ordered. On June 1, 2013, we received a preliminary report of the biopsy suspicious of leukemia cells and his WBC continued to increase, reaching it's highest during this inpatient stay of 130,000 over a period of 3-4 days. On June 3, 2013, our worst fears were confirmed as the pathology report confirmed leukemia. Joel was officially diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and was given less than 24 hours to get to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for immediate aggressive treatment. By the time we arrived to Mayo, Joel's WBC had more than double from his doctor's visit on May 29, 2013. On June 4, 2013, his WBC was a shocking 186,000. He was immediately admitted to Rochester Methodist Hospital and has been there since. We were advised that had he not went to the doctor on May 29, 2013 and continued to deal with the pain, he would've died in 3-4 weeks. A procedure called leukophesis was done to separate his WBC from his RBC to get his WBC count to come down. Once the WBC started to decline he was started on Hydrea, an oral chemotherapy regiment for 48 hours and IV infusion chemotherapy followed. After the 1st round of chemotherapy and many tests and procedures later, it was determined Joel will need a bone marrow transplant for the best prognosis due to his genetics/DNA cell markers. We began our search for a donor starting with his sister as the only member of your family that can be a bone marrow transplant donor is a sibling that shares maternal and paternal parents. My sister-in-law was tested and it wasn't long before we found out she was a perfect match. Praise God! After transplant, Joel will need to stay in the Rochester area for a period of no less than 3 months post operation. Between, medical bills, hospitalizations, bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, specialist visits, medications, radiology procedures, travel expenses for the family back and forth from Arkansas to Minnesota, hotels, car rentals, and of course normal living expenses, this unforeseen illness has created a financial burden on us. Your support will help ease this burden immensely. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for you love, support and contribution to our family during this very difficult time. While currently, there is no cure for cancer, we believe this transplant will add years to Joel's life to enjoy his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. Thank you, Joel & Nikkia Ratliff!
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