"Let’s try to start at the beginning — I’m here to tell our story.
October 7th 2015 – Seth and I had been engaged for 5 months and we were living an hour and a half from each other due to our jobs. Life was crazy! I (Ashley) had just graduated from college, we’d gotten engaged, I moved back home with my parents, started a new job and started planning our wedding. Seth lived in his hometown near Alexandria, MN and was working full time — he also put his two cents in on our wedding plans from time to time and was doing his best to keep his head above water, as in the two months prior to this October date he had lost two very important men in his life, very unexpectedly.
Seth went in for a physical on the morning of October 7th, and by mid-morning of that same day he received a phone call from his doctor that he needed to go to the hospital immediately. At his physical they had done routine blood work and found a very elevated white blood cell count (WBC). The average range for a WBC is 5,000-10,000 – Seth’s WBC was 177,000. He returned to the hospital where they drew his blood again, this time his WBC was worse; 220,000. At this point they began the process of admitting him to the hospital and scheduled a bone marrow biopsy for the following morning.
My mom drove me to Alexandria to be with him in the hospital, no more than an hour after I received word from Seth about the hospital admission. I don’t know if I can find the words to express the feelings I had upon entering his hospital room; relief for finally being physically with him and sheer terror about what the test results were already showing. I spent that night with him in the hospital, nurses checking on him every 2-3 hours; usually just minutes after he had finally fallen back asleep from the prior vitals check.
9:00am finally rolled around – neither of us had slept much at all, but it was time for the bone marrow biopsy. After the biopsy was completed samples were sent for testing and review. We returned to the hospital room and we were greeted by many amazing visitors that helped make the time pass while we waited for the results. Later that day we were informed that the initial results showed that Seth had some form of Leukemia. They immediately started him on an oral chemotherapy medication and kept him for another night as the other test results were pending. I stayed with him again that night, and tried to make him smile a little by telling him – “The next time we are in a hospital overnight, better be for a baby!” Something I still like to remind him of from time to time.
The following morning the oncologist came up to Seth’s room and told us that the additional test results were showing a specific form of Leukemia – Chronic Myeloid Leukemia or CML. At this point; she encouraged us to seek a second opinion – but we were able to go home.
From this point on things are a tad blurry because things just didn’t seem “real.” Seth was at home but taking an oral chemotherapy medication that made him horribly ill, I had to return to work an hour and a half away from him and we felt that we had no time to process anything. Everyone was so supportive and understanding, but I still felt so alone and helpless. The man I love is hurting, he’s sick, he’s lost and I’m not physically there until the weekends when we’d get to finally see each other – those 5 day work weeks crawled by, that’s for sure. To say that things were “hard” at this point is an understatement – we were 22 (me) & 24 (Seth), this isn’t supposed to be happening! What is going on? Needless to say the psychological effects from all of this also took their toll, just trust me.
Eventually Seth got a second opinion with a fantastic oncologist, Dr. Laudi – who specializes in these types of cancer. From this point forward, Seth chose him to be his oncologist and it has been well worth the trip to Coon Rapids, MN from Alexandria for checkups!
At the present time, Seth takes 400mg of Gleevec (oral chemotherapy medication) every day – which has some pretty nasty side effects. We also travel to see the oncologist every four months, Seth has lab work done monthly (blood draws and a special PCR test that shows the percentage of cancer that remains in his body) and he has had one more bone marrow biopsy done in 2016. We are thankful for the fact the oral chemo (Gleevec) is working and keeping the cancer at bay, but without that medication his body would begin to basically attack itself again. Since Seth’s type of leukemia is chronic, he will have it for the rest of his life – it will be treated by the oral chemo, taken daily, which we pray continues to do its job to keep him at a hypothetical “remission” of .1% cancer cells in his body. All in all, he only stays in this “remission” due to Gleevec (oral chemo). Gleevec is a total miracle drug for the CML community, but it has MANY nasty side-effects and is incredibly expensive, which we’ll get into another time."
Please consider helping this truly awesome guy out. I know that he would help just about any of you!