Mum gets gut-wrenching leukemia diagnosis after kids doctor spotted one thing

Three-year-old cancer patient reunites with his siblings

A mother had her life turned upside down after taking her sick children for a routine visit to the pediatrician.

At the age of 40, Laura Hendricks discovered that she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rare and aggressive form of cancer which impacts the production of blood cells in the bone marrow.

The journey towards the tragic diagnosis began when Laura returned from a business trip to London and her children fell ill.

During their visit to the pediatrician, the doctor noticed something was awry with Laura’s health and recommended further examination.

It was during this follow-up visit that Laura’s worst fears became a reality: she learned she had AML.

Initially attributing her fatigue to the demands of motherhood, Laura was taken aback by the diagnosis.

She was not obviously at-risk either: the rare cancer is most prevalent among those above the age of 60, with a yearly incidence rate of just four in 100,000 adults.

Nonetheless, the doctor’s insistence and a series of tests revealed the gravity of Laura’s health condition, which demanded swift intervention.

The diagnosis marked a turning point in Laura’s life. She described it as “the whole world changed” when she received the news.

How to spot it

AML can produce a host of symptoms such as pale skin, fatigue, frequent infections, and unexplained weight loss, some of which Laura had experienced.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH), less common signs or symptoms may be caused by clusters of leukemia cells in the central nervous system (CNS) or testicles, or a tumor of myeloid cells called a chloroma.

Prompted by her doctor’s recommendation, Laura embarked on a grueling seven-month hospital stay, undergoing intense chemotherapy that wiped out her immune system.

Throughout this challenging journey, Laura’s determination to be there for her children served as a driving force in her battle against cancer.

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After a stem cell transplant, she achieved remission and has remained cancer-free for five years.

However, as many cancer survivors can attest, the fight doesn’t end with remission. Laura faced the daunting task of rebuilding her life physically and emotionally post-cancer.

With the support of her husband, Brock, Laura navigated this phase of her life by identifying habits and lifestyle changes that aided the recovery process.

Prioritizing sleep, practicing gratitude, maintaining a healthy diet, and addressing the emotional toll cancer had taken on her were crucial aspects of her healing process.

Inspired by their experience, Laura and Brock decided to turn their journey into a mission of support for other cancer survivors.

They co-founded Luminaries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting survivors in their post-treatment phase. Luminaries provides self-care kits and resources aimed at helping survivors develop healthy habits and face life after cancer with resilience.

Recognizing the challenges many survivors face in accessing support, especially those who live far from treatment centers, Luminaries aims to bridge this gap by offering crucial resources and guidance. Their mission is to ensure that every survivor has access to the tools and support needed to navigate life beyond cancer treatment.

Reflecting on her own survivorship journey, Laura emphasizes the importance of making the path easier for others. She stated: “I know how hard my survivorship journey was with those advantages. All I want to do is make survivorship easier for other people.”

Laura’s story is a testament to the strength and resilience of individuals facing life-altering diagnoses. Her journey from diagnosis to survivorship serves as an inspiration for others battling cancer and highlights the significance of support networks like Luminaries in helping survivors rebuild their lives after treatment.

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