An Unfortunate Coincidence

Taylor and Jaimie

Four years ago at Camp Mak-A-Dream, I met my good friend Jaimie, and we spent every day together. She was artistic and loved dragonflies. When camp ended, we stayed in contact. We always wanted to meet up, but she lived too far away. Jaimie’s first cancer was acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer. My first cancer was Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer.

We were both cancer-free until the day she texted to tell me she was in the hospital again and it was during this time that I’d also been feeling off.

She told me she had a secondary cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, and would need a bone marrow transplant (BMT).

So, I drove to see her at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. When I got there, we went to the teen lounge. I asked her how she was feeling, and as she finished throwing up, she told me she felt awful. As she described how she was feeling, I remember thinking it was weird, because I had been experiencing the same things.

Then it hit me: I could have AML, too.

After spending hours with Jaimie, I headed home and immediately told my parents that I thought I also had leukemia. We went to my pediatrician straightaway, and I went to the doctor several times a week for a month after that.

My white blood cells did not show any blasts (leukemia cells), but my WBC counts (the number of white blood cells in my blood) were elevated.  My oncologist was consulted and she told us not to worry.

I was just sick; not a “cancer kid” anymore.

But, I got sicker.
  My pediatrician wanted to admit me on a Friday.  My oncologist called my mom at home and said she would see me in clinic the following Monday, again reminding her that I was not a “cancer kid.” But by Sunday, I couldn’t take it anymore.  My parents brought me to the ER, and my oncologist (who happened to be in the hospital) met us there.

She tried to hold back her tears as I asked her if my sarcoma had spread to my lungs; she shook her head “no.” I then asked her if I had leukemia; she nodded her head, “yes.”

I had high-risk secondary AML – just like Jaimie.

Read the next part of Taylor and Jaimie’s journey, An Unfamiliar Familiar Place.

Written by Taylor Lieber

Taylor, 19, was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in October 2012.  A little over two and a half years later, she was diagnosed with secondary high-risk AML. This week, Taylor writes about her good friend Jaimie and their transplant experiences.