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ALL Patient Story: Overcoming my Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Diagnosis

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Published on October 13, 2020

Jud Logan’s Story

Follow along as Jud Logan, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patient and four-time Olympic athlete, shares the story of his diagnosis and daily life with ALL. This includes how he conquered the mental hurdles that come along with a cancer diagnosis, how he is continuing to live each day to the fullest with the unwavering support of his family and care team, and his advice for fellow patients.

Moments of Significance

A nagging and lingering cough should just be a trip to the doctor to see if you need an antibiotic or just more time to rid yourself of a virus. For me, my cough plus some suspicious bruises led to my diagnosis of acute leukemia (B-Cell ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia). I refer to the moment that I received the news of my diagnosis as a “Moment of Significance.” Prior to hearing the results, I had received treatment for a non-cancer diagnosis (ITP, iIdiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) without improvement and this came as a total shock. Surrounded by family, we took a moment to soak in the news, then came together to face the steps that I needed to take to fight this. 

I am the Head Track and Field Coach of Ashland University in Ohio. While I was experiencing a private moment of significance with my family, my entire track team was experiencing their own moment(s) of significance as they faced the challenge of attending the NCAA Indoor National Championships without their head coach. I was very specific to the other coaches on the team that the athletes were not to know about my diagnosis. Each athlete earned and deserved their spot at the national championship after months and months of grueling hard work and I didn’t want any distractions. For the first time in Ashland University’s history, the Men’s Ashland University track team brought home the NCAA Indoor National Championship. It was a bittersweet moment as I watched the streamed events on an iPad from my hospital bed. 

While my team was competing and bringing home the national championship, I was preparing for a different type of game plan. I met my new “coach,” Hetty Carraway, at Cleveland Clinic. I told her that all I needed was a plan. I told her “I don’t need it (the plan) to be easy, only possible.”Jud Logan Family

Tackling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Dr. Carraway and her team at Cleveland Clinic have exceeded all of my expectations and the care I have received has been top-notch. Dr. Carraway has treated me in a way that enables me to live my life to the fullest while balancing effective treatment and side effects. I could not have asked to be in better hands. For this, my family and I are eternally grateful. 

I am in remission after receiving chemotherapy on and off since February 2019. I am currently in the “maintenance phase” of chemotherapy after completing a lengthy clinical trial. The opportunity to be a part of a clinical trial is one of the main reasons my family and I decided to pursue my treatment at Cleveland Clinic. Being a part of a clinical trial made me proud to be contributing to something that is larger than just myself. 

It often surprises people when I tell them that I’m still receiving chemotherapy after all this time while being in remission. I think it’s a common misunderstanding that once you’re in remission, treatment stops. Leukemia is a tricky disease and could come back at any time. With each bone marrow biopsy, lumbar puncture, or even a simple lab draw for blood work, I feel like I can’t fully take a full breath until those results are in. 

The coach in me is thankful to have a detailed game plan. The patient in me is grateful for such an amazing care team at Cleveland Clinic. The human in me is appreciative that I found a new way to live life with this disease in a way that keeps me humble, inspired and present in the things I love most. My “Moment of Significance” has encouraged me to celebrate the little things in life. I would not be able to physically or mentally cope with this without the tremendous support of Dr. Carraway, my care team and my community of friends and family. My wife, Jill, has been my rock and I wouldn’t be able to keep my positive spirit without her unwavering support. I will not allow leukemia to define me, but because of it, I will continue to live each day with intention and purpose. 

By Jud Logan

Transcript | ALL Patient Story: Overcoming my Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Diagnosis

Jud Logan: Cancer was never something that had deeply touched my life. When you're going along and life is good, you never really expect that it's going to happen to you.

What Was Your Reaction to Your ALL Diagnosis?

When we got the diagnosis, we were actually in the middle of a family call. My daughter, the nurse practitioner in oncology was there. My son was there, his wife. We were Facetiming with my daughter when the doctor walked in and told us.

It was special for me to have my family around to learn that diagnosis. I was very, very numb at the beginning. I don't remember a lot of what happened in the next 10 to 15 minutes, only that my family came together, and we hugged. My daughter said, "Dad, there are a lot worse cancers than the one that you'll be dealing with." That made me feel like that I had a fighting chance.

How Did Your ALL Diagnosis Impact Your Life?

Even though I'm 61 years old and competed in four Olympic games, it threw me for a loop. I was still competing in the master’s division and was all set to try to break the world record like I did at age 50 and 55, and the 60-year-old division. A lot of things were taken away from my body. But what I did was then I mentally strengthened my mind to allow that to not be so devastating.

When I met with the oncologist in the hospital, they told me a couple of things were going to be very important; that I get my sleep, that I get my calories and that I follow my doctors. But they all to a person said the most important thing in your recovery will be your belief in yourself and your power to get up every day and to minimize some of the things that you're going through and to maximize every moment that you have to try to fight this horrible disease.

Being an Olympic athlete and knowing the value of hard work and what it takes to get to the top, I told my kids on my team, "Don't worry about me. I'm not asking for easy. I'm only asking for possible. And remember this, I'm built for this.” What I've realized over the years that I've been in therapy is that that has served me well, but the people that I've met with no Olympic experience and no athletic experience whatsoever, you don't have to be an Olympic athlete to have that fortitude to want to live your best life.

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