Last week I was supposed to meet my son for lunch, but it was raining and he said he didn't feel well. He'd gone to Campus Health Services where they'd taken a blood sample and he had yet to find out the results. When it comes to kids and blood tests, I have to admit I'm gun-shy. What if he has leukemia?
My rational self ridicules this line of thinking. For a guy who runs 75 miles a week to feel tired and weak, it's quite a stretch to think he might have a horrible disease. But my mind was stretched in March 2006 when I was told by my doctor that my blood work indicated I had acute leukemia. My only symptom had been a swollen finger.
It turns out, my son is anemic. He takes a liquid iron medication and has started training again. He doesn't feel 100% yet but he doesn't have leukemia.
The panic didn't stop there. On Wednesday, I began to feel really tired right after lunch. It was nothing specific, and my first thought was that all my physical symptoms were dragging me down mentally. This is not unreasonable. Then a little voice inside my head said: take your temperature. It was 100.2, a low-grade fever. Three hours later it was 100.4. I didn't feel sick so much as weak. And scared. Why did I have a fever? I didn't have a cold or any other fever-inducing illness, as far as I knew. I was a limp rag (is there any other kind?), and the closest thing to my mind was leukemia.
The next, morning, my temperature was 99.2, and then 99.4. Physically I was better; mentally I was a wreck. Physical exercise improved my mood, but it was two 98.7 readings in a row that made me think, maybe I don't have leukemia.
Maybe. After two cancer-free years, I still feel the occasional dread. Sometimes there's an obvious connection such as a fever or new symptom. Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere and I don't even realize why I'm feeling so blue. Last week, it was my son's blood test. The week before it was the news that a 4-year survivor had relapsed. It's always something.