Life with Leukemia

The Diagnosis

I slightly struggled with what my first post would be, but I decided to just start at the beginning and tell you my story. In December 2012, I was living and working in Orlando, FL going about my “normal” routine of juggling work, ministry, community activities, business, travel, family, and all of the other things young urban professionals fill their plates with in their pursuit of leaving the world a better place. One evening, I woke up gasping for breath in the middle of the night. I just thought it was a fluke until a few days later, the same thing happened, except during the day. Throughout the month of December it continued to happen and I also began to experience heavy fatigue. My fiancé admonished me to go to the doctor, but I had never had a major illness in my life and furthermore I just had an annual check up in October and everything had been fine. So, I brushed off his concerns and told him that I was probably fatigued from my hectic schedule and just needed a vacation.

During the first week of January 2013 the sporadic breathing was becoming more frequent and I began to see bruises on my body, so at this point I began to take my fiancé’s concerns more seriously and decided to schedule an appointment with my doctor. I went in to get my blood drawn on a Friday and on that Monday my doctor called me urgently to come in. Not understanding the severity of the call combined with pressing deadlines at work, I waited until lunch the next day to call back and go in. When I left work on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, I did not know that my life would be changed forever. After I arrived at my doctor’s office, she showed me a piece of paper that had a right column with my blood counts from October and a left column with my blood counts as of that day. All of them had dropped more than half and my white blood cells had tripled. My doctor told me that she thought I had Hemolytic Anemia, but would have to consult with a Hematologist in order to verify. At this point, the level of alarm had still not went off in my head because I didn’t really know what any of this meant and I certainly didn’t know what a Hematologist was.

She left the room to phone the Hematologist to see when she could see me, but when she came back she told me that she couldn’t let me go home and that I would need to call my parents because she was admitting me into the hospital. I was in a state of shock. Questions and thoughts immediately began to spill out. Why do I need to go to the hospital?! I feel fine. I’m a little tired, but I just need to go home and take a nap. Why can’t I just come back tomorrow to meet with the Hematologist?! My doctor, not seeming to miss a beat, very gently explained that if she allowed me to go home that I would bleed to death because I didn’t have enough platelets to survive.

I received blood and platelet transfusions after I was admitted into Florida Hospital East, but no one could seem to figure out what was wrong with me. I will never forget on the morning of January 10, 2013 around 6am God spoke to me very clearly and said “Things will get worse, but you already have the victory!” About thirty minutes later, my primary care physician, the same one who had admitted me into the hospital, came into my room and sat on my bed looking at me very gravely. She explained that she wanted to be the first person to tell me that I had something called leukemia. I looked at her perplexed with again tons of questions filling my head. What was leukemia? How did I get it? Is there a cure? What does this mean? Am I going to die? After trying as best as she could to reassure me, she said that a lot of people would be coming in to talk to me and it may become overwhelming, but to make sure I asked lots of questions and that she would be there with me every step of the way. Once she left my room, I remembered what God had already told me and I called my fiancé, my sister and my parents.

True to my doctor’s words, my hospital room became a revolving door of doctors, specialists, nurses and I quickly became overwhelmed. They moved me to the Hematology/Oncology floor and on Friday, January 11, the day after I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), I started my first round of chemotherapy. (What I later found out was that if the disease had gone untreated for another month, I would’ve died. Thank God for a loving and concerned fiancé!)

I had heard about people undergoing chemo and knew that it was no walk in the park. I must honestly say I was scared and that first night I couldn’t stop shaking. Before this, I had trouble taking a simple Advil for cramps, so I was extremely nervous about how my body would react to being pumped full of poisonous medication designed to wipe me out. That’s when God spoke to me again, but this time through a dream. In this dream, my hands were shrunk down similar to that movie “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”. I couldn’t seem to do anything because my hands were so small. Then I saw another set of hands that were enlarged almost like the Incredible Hulk and they could do anything. I realized that these were God’s hands. God said to me “Your hands are too small. I got this. My hands are big enough. I got you. Lay hands on every part of your body that you feel pain and I’ll take it away.” (And He did!)

diagnosis-pic2

Thirty one days later, after a very tough induction round of chemotherapy, I was released from the hospital. I can’t even begin to tell you how elated and thankful I was to be out of the hospital and to feel the sunshine on my back, smell fresh air, ride in my car, sleep in my own bed without nurses coming in every hour, sit on my couch, walk around without being attached to an IV pole, shower in my own bathroom. We take so many small things for granted! I was so grateful!! Nonetheless, what I soon found out was that my process was far from over.

The next day, I lost all of my hair. Then, two of my siblings got sick with flu like symptoms. Two days after that I was readmitted back into the hospital for multiple infections. As if things couldn’t get any worse, the next day my grandmother passed away. I didn’t understand why this was all happening, but I immediately clung to the scripture in Job 19:25 – “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” He had already told me that “Things would get worse, but I already had the victory.” I’m so glad I serve a God that cannot lie! My job was to trust Him. So, I began to bless God. I know it might sound strange, but in Psalms 34 David said “I will bless the Lord at ALL times.” When he wrote that, he was hiding in a cave, not sitting in a palace. I was an expert at blessing God before I got sick. I needed to bless Him during one of the lowest points of my life. Praise confounds the devil and I needed to serve notice on him that he was NOT going to steal the victory from me. I changed my pity party into a praise party. Everything was going to be all right. God’s going to get the glory out of this!

-MEL-STRONG

hospital-release

comment (50)

  1. Tahaira Sanders

    24 Jun 2013 - 7:16 pm

    Wow Melanie!! How strong and blessed are you!! I have to tell you that reading this immediately brought me to tears and through several other emotions! I was sadden to read that this had happened to you, yet OVERJOYED to hear how perfectly you handle it! I have always admired you and thought your were such a beautiful person and I think this even more so now! Please know that will continue to be an avid reader of your blog and a prayer warrior as well! God Bless you and much love to you and your family!

  2. Kayla

    24 Jun 2013 - 7:16 pm

    Melanie! I just asked your sister at Back @ 1 how you were doing. You occasionally come to mind and I ask God to continue to bless you! I am so elated that you would share your testimony with us. I could say more but please know that your transparency is a blessing to others!! God will get the glory! 🙂
    God bless!

  3. C. Arnold

    24 Jun 2013 - 7:17 pm

    I’ve already been blessed by your testimony so far, Mel and can’t wait to see and hear how God moves more in your life. Stay strong, my friend! Love you!

  4. William Durham, Jr.

    24 Jun 2013 - 7:29 pm

    AWESOME testimony! I can’t wait to hear/read the rest! We all have our different struggles and this blog has encouraged me. While my struggle may be different from yours, we serve the same God!…and if He did it (and is still doing it) for you He will surely do it for me as well. I’m repositioning myself so that His praises will continually be in my mouth! Continued blessings to you, Sis. Melanie!!

  5. Sharae & Eric Arnold

    24 Jun 2013 - 7:34 pm

    Melanie, please know that we think of you often and continually pray for your complete healing. We serve an awesome GOD.

    Much love to you always.

  6. Anjelica

    24 Jun 2013 - 7:37 pm

    What a great post, it’s really amazing to read about your faith through this diagnosis! I know you’ll bring hope to so many people… Glory to God! As always, you are in my prayers! Love ya, girlie!

  7. meredith

    24 Jun 2013 - 8:04 pm

    Hi Melanie,
    I am sorry that you are in such a hard place in life and experiencing this terrible thing. I’ve seen you and your family and I know your faith can’t be moved; I know the Lord keeps you. I’m praying for you and your family. I am sending you one thousand angels to watch over you.

    Thank you for your words of Faith and testimony, it’s inspiring.
    Love and care
    Meredith

  8. Deavin

    24 Jun 2013 - 8:25 pm

    God bless you Mel! So excited to see God’s glory released through your healing! Lots of love and cotinued prayer!

    Deavin

  9. Chanelle

    24 Jun 2013 - 8:38 pm

    Melanie,
    You don’t know what this just did to and for me. You keep sharing your testimony because after this, there will be GLORY. There already is glory in your testimony. I am in tears because I know the power of God for myself and I am standing in faith declaring 3 John 2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in good health even as your soul prospers.

    Love you!
    -Chanelle

  10. Euliza (Gates)Mays

    24 Jun 2013 - 8:47 pm

    Mel…God Bless you! You are a strong beautiful woman, fearfully and wonderfully made. I am sorry that you have to endure this pain and uncertainity but I am rejoicing that the God we serve can take all your pain away and provide you with this platform to share your testimony. Thank you!
    Euliza

  11. Alicia (Williamson) Barlow

    24 Jun 2013 - 9:45 pm

    Mel, Praise be to God that you are humble enough to share your TESTimony with everyone! It takes a lot of courage to do what you have done. I will be praying for you and your family. Keep your spirits up. I don’t know about anyone else but this has touched me in a way that I will never be able to explain. Continue to tap into your faith and know that GOD CAN AND WILL BE ALL THAT YOU NEED HIM TO BE.

  12. David Taylor

    24 Jun 2013 - 9:52 pm

    Mel Mel…you are a strong woman and will endure. I appreciate your testimony and my family prays for a quick recovery. Your story has and will continue to change lives because you were born to be a history changer. Thanks for occupying your post against all odds!

  13. Angel Hunt

    24 Jun 2013 - 9:56 pm

    Awesome story! God never lies! All I can say is JESUS:-D!

  14. Schenell McClendon

    24 Jun 2013 - 9:57 pm

    Melanie,

    Know that I am praying for you and your family. You were always an inspiration in law school and you continue to be to this day. I will pray for your good health and I know that God will continue to bless you.

    Schenell

  15. Kionna Walker

    24 Jun 2013 - 9:58 pm

    To God be the GLORY!

  16. Tanesha

    24 Jun 2013 - 11:49 pm

    What an awesome testimony you already have! You will be in my prayers.

  17. Karyn Price Boswell

    24 Jun 2013 - 11:51 pm

    Thanks for allowing us to be apart of your journey! Thinking of you!!!

  18. S'Neta

    25 Jun 2013 - 1:08 am

    All I can say is I love you & will keep you lifted in prayer, love, & the best of everything this world and the next has to offer.

    S’Neta

  19. Curtis J. Tarver II

    24 Jun 2013 - 9:58 pm

    Mel –

    Your story is amazing. I had no idea until Elaine just told me. You are a shining example of courage and faith. We are incredibly humbled by your journey and your willingness to share. You are in our prayers!

  20. Shorron (Pace) Scott

    24 Jun 2013 - 10:20 pm

    I am so glad that God is still in the blessing business. You have been in my prayers. Love you sis, Praise God for the VICTORY!!!!

  21. Tiffany White

    24 Jun 2013 - 11:08 pm

    What a great testimony! You are such a strong beautiful person. I will be praying for you and your family and think of the next time I am presented with a struggle. So inspiring! Tell your fiance I said hi and congratulations…What a small world, he was attending the Perio Grad program during my years in hygiene school 🙂

  22. Janice Ballard

    24 Jun 2013 - 11:30 pm

    You are a blessed woman that rocks. I’m praying for you. Love you Mel

  23. Tina Simpson

    24 Jun 2013 - 11:35 pm

    Melanie, I am so inspired by your testimony…..you are awesome in Jesus! Thank you for sharing it with the world. I am constantly amazed at where that Godly foundation that was laid in our lives as children leads us to. You are more than a conqueror! Stay encouraged. I love you and my prayers are with you.

  24. Andria Morgan

    25 Jun 2013 - 4:41 pm

    In tears!!! You are living testimony!! God is a healer!! So many people love and are praying for you!

  25. millerdj40

    25 Jun 2013 - 5:04 pm

    Melanie you are so strong. I am praying for you. Love ya

  26. Hope Wynn

    25 Jun 2013 - 5:09 pm

    Awesome testimony! I’m so excited about what has done &will continue to do in your life. I’m praying for you!
    Love you Mel!

  27. Chris Morgan

    25 Jun 2013 - 5:33 pm

    Hi my sister from another mother. Just want to let you know I’m praying for you. If you said God already said you got the victory then that’s enough said right there. I miss you and love you. Stay MEL-STRONG!

  28. Latangia

    25 Jun 2013 - 6:32 pm

    Melanie! You are so brave, strong and blessed! I admire your positive attitude and continuous praise! You took me back to our CCA days! I love you Doll

  29. Danielle Walker

    25 Jun 2013 - 8:20 pm

    Melanie!!! I am sitting here in tears and overjoyed at your story and the outcome!! God is TRULY AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Carrie Johnson

    25 Jun 2013 - 10:38 pm

    My son David shared your story with me. I don’t know you but your story is so compelling I had to stop and pray for you. The scripture says, when two or more come together He will be there also. God will heal your body because of Your Faith. Remember God words are always true. When He says, ““I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jer. 32:27″. Nothing is too hard for Him. Trust His words and You will be healed. Through Jesus Christ, I pray for a complete healing of your body. Be Blessed…

  31. Sonny Qazi

    25 Jun 2013 - 11:57 pm

    Stay strong and GOD bless!
    -Sonny

  32. Carrie Street-Rainey

    26 Jun 2013 - 6:59 pm

    Melanie, I’m so very proud and inspired by your courage! You’ve always been a trend setter and a go getter! The best is yet to come for you be blessed and be encouraged!!! Love you Mel and it shall be well

  33. Mali

    27 Jun 2013 - 9:50 am

    Mel, I had to walk out of my office for this one. Thank you for sharing and thank you for your diligence and obedience. God is so great!!

  34. Antonette Payne

    27 Jun 2013 - 1:04 pm

    In 2005 I trained for my first triathlon with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I met so many strong beautiful survivors. I say this so that you know that many others who have been in your place have beat this and accomplished great physical challenges such as ironmans, triathlons and marathons. I wish you the very best. Your spirit and faith will get you through this.

  35. Floyd Springer

    27 Jun 2013 - 1:51 pm

    Thank you for sharing! You and your family are in my prayers for a FULL recovery.

  36. Jeff Beckham

    27 Jun 2013 - 2:50 pm

    I saw this pop up on a friends page and God told me to read! I am praying for strength and healing for you. To God be the glory for your strength and thank you for writing this. It is inspiring and really let’s all of know what a blessing health is.

    God bless you!

  37. Doretha Edwards

    30 Jun 2013 - 10:08 am

    Reading this testimony has touched every fiber of my being. Words can’t explain how I admire your faith and strength! My first thought was, no matter what happens, this sister is a winner! Continue to trust that GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU!

  38. Jackie Stapples

    01 Jul 2013 - 8:46 am

    Your testimony brings to my mind a song with the words; IN THEE OH LORD, I’LL PUT MY TRUST, MY LIFE, MY MIND IN YOUR HANDS. I can’t remember the rest of the song, but those few words says it all. I’m going to pray that the Lord strengthens you everyday In Jesus Name.

  39. Rita Campbell

    01 Jul 2013 - 6:43 pm

    To God, I give the GLORY!!! Your testimony is very inspiring. You have been in my prayers constantly since I learned of your plight earlier this year. As you said God got this! You are God’s child and that makes you a winner. Love You!!!

  40. Michelle Hudson

    02 Jul 2013 - 10:51 am

    Melanie- How precious life is and how quickly it can be changed forever! I just saw Kyla’s note on FB and read your blog. My heart is heavy for the pain you must have experienced and still are experiencing. BUT my spirit rejoices and believes in God’s almighty hand on your life!! You have the victory!! I am praying for the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit to constantly surround you. Be encouraged and know you are loved and a true blessing to all you know you.

    With all my heart,
    Michelle

  41. Carmen Peaches Arila

    04 Jul 2013 - 9:59 am

    I had no doubt God would work it out. I’ve seen Him do it. Love you. Thank God for His healing blood.

  42. Terri Y

    05 Jul 2013 - 9:57 am

    Your story is one that will inspire many. It’s such a powerful testimony and God is going to bless you for blessing others. Be encouraged.

  43. Diane Burkhardt

    09 Jul 2013 - 10:29 pm

    Michelle,

    Beverly is a colleague who I enjoy working with. She told me about your blog. You can count on me for prayers. Your faith will truly strength you. A favorite Bible verse that my Mother taught me years ago is “All things are possible through Christ who strengthens me”. My father was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoma three years ago at the age of 80. I’m happy to report he is cancer free and only has two more maintenance treatments to complete. God is so good!

  44. Denise Castille

    11 Jul 2013 - 8:45 pm

    Mel…..there is no way that you will remember me (maybe my mom Evangelist Castille) but I remember you as a little girl when we attended Christ Church.

    Mom was reading an email from your dad and somehow made it to your blog. I started reading out loud and struggled to get through your amazing testimony without tears.

    I am praying for you and will continue to check back often.

    May God continue to bless and keep you.

  45. Jackie Stapples

    13 Jul 2013 - 6:38 pm

    Hi Sis Melanie, IN MORNING GLORY THIS MORNING PASTOR BENNETT SPOKE FROM LUKE 18:35 -42 . I WILL CONTINUE TO CALL OUT TO JESUS FOR YOUR HEALING. WE ALL ARE AT MT.ZION COGIC.

  46. Mark D. McCowan

    29 Jul 2013 - 9:13 pm

    Isa 41:10
    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    Mel, my words are miniscule compared to the magnitude of your trial but I just wanted to express my sincere concern and my optimistic faith that those words you typed, the dreams you experienced and the reassurance of our Lords promise that you are healed, your are whole, and you are strong. It is already done and I look for to the praise report that you will provide!!!! LIFTING YOU UP IN PRAYER

  47. MoLesa Williams

    09 Oct 2013 - 6:36 pm

    Aww!!! Hey Sister Melanie 🙂 We LOVE You!!!

  48. Jessica Randolph

    18 Oct 2013 - 2:41 pm

    You are beyond strong & an inspiration. Love you chic.

  49. Psalm 30:5

    24 Sep 2014 - 9:15 am

    […] life has taken over the past year and a half. I was diagnosed with ALL [read full story HERE], my grandmother passed,  I had to stop working and I had to move from FL to IN to get a Bone […]

  50. Katherine Woodard Handley

    24 Sep 2014 - 12:47 pm

    AWESOME Testimony! My niece Rochonda Woodard shared your Faith journey with me, and I am so thankful that she did. We all have our different struggles, but reading your story makes me realize just how petty mine are. You’ve reminded me of just how big our God is and that there is nothing impossible for him God has a purpose for all of us and we just need to pray and ask him to reveal it. Keep the Faith, stay Strong. Continued blessings to you.

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