Leukemia Research Foundation News

Stronger together: Vani’s leukemia journey

In April 2023, something felt off—I was more fatigued and bruised than usual. After blood work, I received a call on April 11th with alarming results: signs pointed to leukemia.

The oncologist I was referred to told me to go to an academic hospital immediately. I remember completely feeling out of my body, thinking what is happening right now? She advised me to pack a bag and to be prepared to stay for about a month. A month! I had three small kids I had to think of. Fortunately, my mother lives close by, and she came right away so my husband could rush me to the hospital.

It all happened so fast

I was admitted to Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital late on that same Tuesday night. Those days following, I underwent several blood tests, CT’s, ultrasounds, bone marrow biopsy etc., etc.  Five days later I was diagnosed with PH+ B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

I was shocked, scared, mad, sad… all the feelings. The most heartbreaking and difficult part was being away from my kids. I was hospitalized for the next several weeks, so treatment could begin immediately. It was sudden and life changing. I was a 39-year-old healthy, active wife and mother of three, how could this be happening? Supported by my amazing husband, Omar, and our family and friends, we fought together. “Stronger together” is something we kept saying over and over. We were all committed to fight this fight. 

I spent weeks in the hospital, missing Mother’s Day and my 40th birthday. I had eight cycles of intense chemotherapy treatments, and for each one I had to go back to the hospital for four to five days. In between, I had hospital visits for blood work, blood and platelet transfusions, and whatever else was needed.

The next phase

I completed my last cycle in October of 2023. I am now in my maintenance phase for the next two years, which consists of monthly blood work appointments, meeting with my doctor to go over the results, and then a chemo transfusion.

I’ve been in remission for a few months now and am doing okay, thankfully. I am beyond grateful for the outpouring of love and support that carried me through. The check-ins, the “how are you doing”, donations, those who sent positive thoughts, signed up to bring our family meals, sent love.

It truly took a village and I’ll never forget your kindness and positively.

Learn more about B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, what it is, and how it is diagnosed and treated.


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