Bear with me as I share about my journey of self-discovery, self-love, mindset management and growth. More on the history behind the picture above at the end of this article.
I was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia (AML) on 11th Oct 2021. It was rather unexpectedly dropped in my lap. Not the kind of news one expects to get. Extremely inconvenient considering the fact that I have a Nutrition business and household to run.
Talk about throwing a spanner into your well thought out plans!
If you don’t already know me, I’m Leanna, Culinary Nutrition Coach. I am a supportive mentor who helps my clients make healthy diet and lifestyle choices to improve their overall wellness. For example, I have helped many clients lose weight and we decide which of their lifestyle factors they want to keep or change.
My coach training allows me to coach issues on basic nutrition, exercise and fitness, dietary planning, detoxing, gut health and weight loss. I have specialised coaching and mindset training to learn problem solving, accountability and motivational skills, so they can best support my clients.
Back to the diagnosis of AML.
This is still really difficult for me to write down. Everything seemed so surreal at first.
Few Days before the Reveal
I had massive headaches for a few days prior to admission but being me and having quite a high tolerance for pain, I powered through the days. I even did legs day at the gym, doing weights and other pretty intensive workouts.
I was unaware that I was pushing my body too far. I should have heeded the warning signs.
Sometimes after going to the gym, I like to go grocery shopping because at night it is nice and quiet and I can shop in peace. So twice after parking my car, I experienced what I call minor head shifts. You see, I used to have vertigo long time ago, so I thought that it was that. It’s scary to think how I carried on “business as usual”.
I also fulfilled “mom duty” fetching my kids to and fro when needed.
So this was me operating on a very low haemoglobin count of 5, just that I was unaware of it at the time.
So looking back, I should have practiced more self-love instead of powering through my days. I guess I am not alone in this. How many of you tend to put yourself last? How many put duty above self-care like me? Perhaps some food for thought.
Morning of the Reveal
I went to the A&E on 11th Oct 2021.
How did that happen?
That morning I had gone to my family doctor because I was having a really bad headache for a few days prior and also running a high fever. The doctor suspected dengue and orders a blood test.
Evening of the Reveal
That evening at around 8pm, I got a call from my doctor asking me to go to A&E straight away as my haemoglobin count was at 5. Which is very low. In a daze, thinking that I’m only going to be hospitalised for a few days, I pack a few haphazard things. No skincare, just charger, some undies and change of clothes for going home.
The Admission Doctor asks me a whole host of questions and draws my blood for testing. I was admitted to a double room. I was given blood transfusion and Panadol for the fever. I was later transferred to a single room because as the nurse said, “You are immunocompromised.” Immunocompromised is a broad term which means that the immune system is weaker than expected and not functioning properly.
That word really hit hard. Kind of sucks.
At around 11pm, another doctor comes to see me and shows me a picture of my blood taken under the microscope. It’s still a blur when I think back and I can only remember the gist of what he said. I had blood cancer and would need treatment.
I was still in denial and thought that he would at least send me home so that I can break it to my kids personally. Boy was I wrong. I had a lumbar puncture the next morning to confirm the diagnosis which in my case is Acute Myloid Leukaemia with FLT3 mutation. I began chemotherapy 2 days later. In the end I broke the news to my kids one by one either through video or phone call. One of the hardest things I have ever done. By the way, I was still in denial myself.
It’s a picture of me in hospital gown, playing with an online virtual make up app. I used to have a full head of hair but by the time of the picture, it had lessened considerably. Not deterred by my balding patch, (I think I can now empathise with all balding men out there now lol!) I decide to be innovative and sweep the remainder of my hair over to the opposite side and proceed to take several selfies. It was pretty fun and I managed to entertain myself and make myself laugh, along with the nurse who was there too. Talk about laughter therapy!
So I’m curious to know what you think of the photo? I think I totally rock the new look! By the way, at the time of writing this, I already have a new rocking look. Would you guys be interested to see it?
Also, at the time of writing this I am done with my first cycle of chemotherapy and was at home for a few days. Some aspects are still very recent and raw to write about, like how I broke the news to my parents. More on that will come as I unthaw myself I am sure.
Thanks for reading. Please share this with your friends. My aim is to impact as many people as possible with my story.
Also…lessons learnt from cancer will be shared in the next post! Stay tuned!