a little thanksgiving

Five years ago, my wife was diagnosed with Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia. As we began to understand what was happening, we had many tears, but put our trust in the Lord. This summer marks a milestone. Left untreated, CML life expectancy is about five years. But we thank God for the work of many scientists (surely some of them – most? – unregenerated). Two years prior to our diagnosis, they had successfully brought to approval the new wonder drug, Gleevec.

Gleevec turned a death sentence into a chronic condition, with next to no side effects for my dear wife. (Except she complains about gaining back the weight she lost with active leukemia!)

Newsweek has an article called “A Step Past Chemotherapy” that describes some of the new approaches being taken in treating cancers of all kinds, following the path blazed largely by Gleevec.

In the article, these are the lines that got me thinking about our milestone:

Such glitches take place within a complex network of genes and proteins, all of them performing specific duties to keep cancer alive. Targeted drugs interrupt various pathways in this network. One significant advance in this new approach is Gleevec, approved in 2001 to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. Gleevec clamps down on the cell’s accelerator, a protein called tyrosine kinase, which drives cancer to reproduce.

Essentially, Gleevec zeros in on the mutated white blood cells that show up in my wife’s blood stream and kills them, allowing the normal cells to function properly and proliferate. Which apparently makes her life expectancy about the same as anyone else. I have given her these comforting words: “You’ll live long enough to die of something else.”

We don’t dwell on it. Our tears and fears are long past. My wife takes a couple of pills every morning and life goes on. We are very thankful to be able to serve the Lord together still. But as I realized this summer is a milestone of sorts, I am full of thankfulness to our Lord who does all things well.



  1. Don, I’m really happy for you and your wife. Thanks for the post.

  2. Mary says:

    We rejoice with you!

  3. Donna Hoy says:

    Hi, I too am a survivor of CML. I am at the 3 1/2 year mark and moving along. God has granted me a few more good years to kick around this earth. Hopefully, I’m using them well. Have some issues now and again with long term use of Gleevec, but then why complain. Sounds like your doing well too. Congrats.

  4. Hi Donna

    Thanks for your note. My wife’s doctor told us at the beginning that she intended for us to ‘dance at our grandchildren’s weddings’ (which would be a little hard since we don’t dance and as yet have no grandchildren). My wife has been incredibly side effect free, although I know some do experience some problems with Gleevec. She is actually on a very low dose and doing fine.

    BTW, I have set up a news alert on google news for Gleevec, so I keep up with it every day.

    The fact of CML only reminds us of the frailty of this life and the need for certainty for the next life. We thank God that the Lord has provided that certainty through Christ and revealed it to us through His Word.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3