Health update

blood samples
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Content warning: cancer, blood (not graphic)

So lets get this out of the way as things are starting to happen quite fast: I have cancer. To be precise, I have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

That isn’t quite as scary as it sounds. In fact, when it comes to rolling on the Random Cancer Table, I got about as good a result as I could have wished for. It’s a slow building cancer, which I managed to get diagnosed relatively early. Its main symptoms are fatigue, a weakened immune system and swollen lymph nodes. So far I’ve avoided the fatigue and not had an infection since January last year.

I’ve actually known since June when I decided to get a GP to look at the lumps in the back of my neck. That lead to a blood test – and that lead to a speedy diagnosis. Nevertheless, I haven’t been receiving any treatment. This is usual in the case of CLL as the treatment can often be worse than the disease in terms of side effects. I have however reached the point where my white cell count has continued to skyrocket. As such my consultants have decided that now is a good time to begin treatment. Which it turns out starts tomorrow. Yikes.

I’ve already told a lot of people about this and I’ve been meaning to go public about it for a while. The main reason I haven’t so far has been that it became apparent this is pretty routine. It turns out that I know a lot of people who either have CLL or have relatives with it. It quickly became clear that this was a condition that people lived comfortably with lived for years, even decades.

I didn’t want to sound overly dramatic about my situation. I’ve known so many people who have had far more serious cancers than me over the past 5 years. Sadly, a number of them did not survive. I’m not in that situation and I didn’t want people to worry too much about it. And I didn’t want people to feel I was fishing for sympathy for something that really didn’t warrant it.

I’m announcing it now because I’m about to spend six months spending a day a week in hospital receiving treatment. I didn’t want to have to spend six months self censoring. Due to the fact my immune system is likely to be worse during treatment, I’m also not going to be going to any places where there are a lot of people, such as game conventions. I just think it’s easier to have a blog post I can point to as an explainer. I’ve been finding it exhausing giving people the same spiel again and again.

The prognosis is good and the most likely outcome is that after six months my cancer should be in remission. While the start of any medical treatment is a little nerve-wracking, overall I’m feeling confident. As I understand it, the main risk of this treatment is that it may be too effective. Having too many dead cancer cells floating around my circulatory system can lead to other problems.

What I want to spend most of 2024 focusing on is Leisure Games, which I became the co-owner of back in September. We’ve got plans to improve the shop over the next year and I’m really keen to make those happen. The cancer is just a minor obstruction that I need to get out of the way.

So I’ve got plenty to look forward to any be optimistic about in 2024. Please don’t be too concerned. I have a great support network and am in good hands. If you want to help me; buy my games! But seriously don’t feel you need to offer any. If I need help or advice, I promise I will ask. Advice about alternative treatments is very much unwanted, thanks.

The last thing I want to say is to make sure you go to your screenings, check yourself regularly and if you do find something on your body that might be cancer, get it checked out. My minor regret is that I didn’t go to the doctor about what turned out to be a swollen lymph node a month earlier than I did.

I probably have Hank Green to thank for spurring me on when he announced he had Hodgkins Lymphoma on his YouTube channel. He’s now in full remission. You simply cannot get a diagnosis too early when it comes to cancer. I’ve known too many people who sadly haven’t been so fortunate. For all its problems, my experience with the NHS when it comes to monitoring my situation has been excellent (I acknowledge that in this respect I’m fortunate to be white, male, living in London and have a fairly easy to detect cancer). Get it looked at today!

1 comment

  1. Sorry to hear about your health issues but glad that the prospects are pretty good. Best wishes for an early resolution and a good recovery. And happy new year Vicky

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.