My next birthday's coming up soon. I'm happy to be here to enjoy it, and looking forward to many more to come. I don't even mind gray hairs and wrinkles and joint aches. What's important is that I am alive and well and here to make the most out of every day.
Five years ago this month I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer - Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia or CML. Until 2001 patients who were diagnosed with CML were told they had, at most, three to five years to live. That's no longer true.
This year, just like last year, my cancer will be under control on my birthday. I will be dealing with some side effects issues from treatment, which is for life, but I will also be looking forward to living a normal lifespan. And there are hundreds of thousands of others around the world who are also LIVING with my disease. Our treatment - a targeted gene therapy in pill form - is one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of cancer treatment and has been called "the closest thing we have to a cure for cancer."
What causes CML? This blood cancer results from a gene translocation that takes place involving chromosomes 9 and 22. It's really not clear why this happens. In an ironic twist, my birthday, 9/22, also happens to be World CML Day! I can't wait to join my "blood buddies" around the world on 9/22 to celebrate the second chance at life that modern science has made possible. Yes, we ARE aging, and that's just wonderful!