My Leukemia
  Last update:  May 2010

In May 1995, I was diagnosed with Acute Leukaemia. This is an account of my journey through that challenge:

What would you do if one day you became aware that someone was watching you. You look up and find Death walking toward you.  All at once you realise you have seconds...?" 

Alistair looked up from his Friday afternoon coffee.  He stared at me, trying to work out from where the question had come.  "Why do you ask?"  He lifted his coffee and tested the temperature with a short sip. 
I put down my cup and looked over the balcony of the Blue Train Restaurant. I watched as the people below went about their day in quiet expectation that tomorrow would present itself just as it had done all of their lives.
"I'm not sure" I replied, "Somehow the question seems important."  

"Well," he said, "I'll try to avoid crossing paths with Mr. Reaper for as long as I can."  
A loud whistle split the air as a small ferry pushed hard against the flow of the Yarra River, steam rising from its efforts.
I smiled. "I think I'd stare him down..."

I forgot about this conversation and that weekend my wife and I went shopping for clothes. I bought a green long sleeve shirt. I remember it vividly because I normally don't wear green.  Yet, somehow, the world seemed locked outside my mind, and within I could only hear silence.

I wore the shirt that night and the next day discovered a rash developing over my arms.  I ignored it and assumed that it was caused by the chemicals in the shirt. However, by the Wednesday of that week the rash was much worse. I went to my doctor and she told me that it may have been something I had had a reaction to.  She gave me some pills and asked me to revisit her on the Friday - one week after Al and I had chatted over coffee. 
By the Friday my skin looked like red orange-peel. I was very busy at work so decided to go and see my doctor again on the Monday. All the while I was ignoring something.  A knowing deep within that something was wrong.  A silent scream from a me-in-the-future to wake up from this dream. And still I slept.

On the Saturday my wife and I drove up into the country to a family wedding.  At the reception that night I got up to dance and almost fell over.  I suddenly felt extremely weak.  A little while later, while sitting back at the table my nose started to bleed.  It took ages to stop the bleeding.  I decided to return to the hotel room.  I climbed into bed and sunk quickly into a restless, dreamless sleep.
The next morning I woke to find my pillow covered in blood.  It took all my energy to stand up, and after breakfast Jacqui had to drive back to Melbourne.  By the Monday I could hardly walk.  I had bruises and my skin was still full of the rash. That morning I turned to my wife and, with all the seriousness I could muster, I told her that I was checking out. 
Later that day my doctor took one look at me and decided to send me for blood tests...

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