My Journey with CML
My name is Mrs. Jashuben Prajapati, and I want to share my incredible journey as a Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) survivor. I hail from Mumbai, India, and today, at the age of 71, I stand as a testament to the power of resilience and the unwavering support of my family and the medical community.
My battle with CML began on December 12, 1995, when I was 42 years old. My oncologist initiated my treatment with capsule Hydrea, and throughout this period, weekly Complete Blood Count (CBC) tests were conducted to monitor my progress. Sadly, there were no signs of a cure, and my hemoglobin levels continued to plummet. This challenging journey lasted until 2002, during which time I underwent a hysterectomy. At one point, my hemoglobin level reached a critical low of 3gm/dl, leading to the transfusion of almost 13 units of blood and plasma. Despite these efforts, my hemoglobin remained below 7gm/dl. It was then that my oncologist gave me a life expectancy of just 6 months.
In a twist of fate, my oncologist provided a ray of hope by introducing me to Glivec, a medication launched in 2001. My late daughter, who resided in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, played a crucial role in obtaining information about Glivec, its availability, and the Max Foundation’s GIPAP program. She helped connect us with the right people in Mumbai, and the necessary formalities were completed. On July 2, 2002, I received approval for the GIPAP program, and my journey with Glivec began.
I continued taking Glivec until October 30, 2019, after which my oncologist, Dr. Bhausaheb Bagal, advised me to discontinue the medication as my BCR-ABL reports were favorable. Since then, I haven’t needed any CML-related medications.
During my lengthy battle, I encountered various medical professionals, including oncologists, heart specialists, orthopedic surgeons, nephrologists, and underwent numerous tests and surgeries, including uterus removal, treatment for a fissure, bone marrow aspirations (6 times), and colonoscopies. The side effects of Glivec were challenging, including diarrhea, vomiting, leg swelling, and muscle cramps. Additionally, I developed lymphedema in my legs, which remains a painful side effect, manageable only through massages and compression bandages.
Glivec began showing positive results around the 5th month of treatment, stabilizing my CBC reports. I initially took 400 mg of Glivec for several years, and my oncologist later reduced the dose to 300 mg to address leg swelling, which, as it turned out, was due to lymphedema.
Throughout this journey, I have been under the care of Tata Memorial Center Cancer Hospital in Mumbai, and I must express my heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated oncologist who have guided me along the way:
- Dr. S. H. Advani
- Dr. V.R. Pai
- Dr. Hari Menon
- Dr. Manju Senger
- Dr. Bhausaheb Bagal
Their unwavering cooperation and support played a significant role in my journey to recovery. Battling CML has taken a toll on me, physically, mentally, and financially, not to mention the social aspects of life. I’ve endured the loss of my daughter to malignant melanoma, my mother-in-law to breast cancer, and my husband’s younger brother to liver cancer. It’s been a challenging road, but I am deeply grateful for the strength given to me by the divine, the steadfast support of my husband, the financial and emotional support of my two sons, and the incredible generosity of the Max Foundation, which provided me with Glivec.
Today, my remarkable 29-year journey with CML continues as a testament to the power of hope, resilience, and the love and support of family. I have recently migrated to Canada as a Permanent Resident, joining my sons in Brampton, Ontario, and embracing the next chapter of my life with gratitude and determination.