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“Someday is Today”
It’s a slogan that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society uses on patient education materials, and Jennifer Andrews has adopted it as her own.
The mother of two college-age sons and a daughter in eighth grade started off the New Year looking forward. She would be celebrating her 24th wedding anniversary to her husband, Jim; volunteering with her daughter’s marching band, and continuing nurturing the little ones at her home daycare.
But on January 19, she made a visit to her family doctor complaining of knots in her neck. She thought she might have mono because she’d been extra tired right after the holidays.
“My doctor was smart. He ran tests on Sunday, diagnosed me with acute myeloid leukemia, (AML), and on Monday I was admitted to IU Health Simon Cancer Center to begin chemotherapy,” said Andrews, 45. So she left her family in the Southern Indiana town of St. Anthony – nearly three hours from Indianapolis. Under the care of Dr. Larry Cripe, Andrews said the goal is work toward stem cell transplant.
Acute myeloid leukemia is the most common acute leukemia affecting adults. It is a rapidly progressing disease that affects cells that are not fully developed and cannot carry out normal functions.
“Basically, my leukemia is resistant to chemotherapy,” said Andrews. “It’s odd how things work out. I used to donate platelets for a couple of people I knew who had leukemia and now this. I will beat this.”
Being so far from her children and family is hard but Andrews passes the time, working on family paperwork, reading, coloring and working crosswords. She says she’s nearly worn a path in her unit from walking.
“The nurses and doctors have been awesome. Everyone is genuinely concerned and always checking in on me,” said Andrews. “My grandmother was one of the strongest women I’ve know and she used to say, ‘prepare for the worst and pray for the best.’ When they told me I had leukemia, I closed my eyes and pictured my grandmother’s face,” said Andrews.
What has changed the most for her since her diagnosis is this: “Someday is today.
People sometimes get in such a rush that they don’t really talk or listen. They are so busy planning for the future that they don’t focus on the here and now. When my kids call now, I hang onto every word.”
-- By T.J. Banes, Associate Senior Journalist at IU Health.
Reach Banes via email at T.J. Banes or on Twitter @tjbanes.