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Finding Hope in Your AML Journey

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Published on March 30, 2021

Advice for Finding Hope During Your AML Journey

An acute myeloid leukemia (AML) diagnosis is devastating for both the patient and those who love them. Listen to AML patient Dave Cade and his wife, Dawn Cade, discuss what happened when their local oncologist told them Dave had only two weeks to live and urged them to see if he was a candidate for any nearby clinical trials. Dave and Dawn remind us that even when a patient loses all hope, a care partner can step in and advocate on their behalf.

Support for this series has been provided by AbbVie Inc. and Genentech, Inc. Patient Power maintains complete editorial control and is solely responsible for program content.

Transcript | Finding Hope in Your AML Journey

Dawn Cade: Hi. I'm Dawn Cade, and this is Dave Cade.

When Were You Diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)?

Dave Cade: This is our AML story. Back in July of 2016, I was feeling different than I'd ever felt in my life. I was feeling tired and for some reason, I had no hope. I told my wife, it was on a Sunday. I told her, I felt like life was leaving me. Like you see in a cartoon, that little spirit leaving the cartoon figure, and so I was feeling so bad Sunday afternoon, she said, "Now we're going to the hospital." And I'm not one to go to the hospital. So I said, "No, we'll see what happens." She called our family doctor and he said, "No, he needs to go immediately." So, she took me to Loveland, to the emergency room, and they did six hours’ worth of tests. I mean, blood tests, any kind of a test you could think of, and they had thought I'd had a stroke. And that's what they were checking for.

Dawn Cade: After the hospital, we went to our primary care doctor and he looked at the results. He pulled his stool up to Dave's knees and he said, "Dave, you've known me for a long time and I'm not going to lie to you. This is not good." He said, "You probably have two weeks to two months and you have AML." And he said, "We need to send you to a specialist." So he sent us to the oncologist. The oncologist confirmed everything and he said there was nothing he could do for him because he'd had open heart surgery. He had a triple bypass and the traditional treatments would be way too hard on his heart so they couldn't do that. So, he said, "But I've heard of a study down at the university hospital in Aurora and I don't know if they can help you, but it's worth a try."

Dave Cade: I really didn't have any hope. I thought if it's a study, it wasn't really too hopeful because the drug at the time was not even approved by the FDA and so I really didn't have too much hope in it. Dawn was grabbing at every little thread she could grab at. She was totally in denial. I mean, from the time we got the results to...she just couldn't get it in her head that I didn't have that long to go.

Dawn Cade: I never doubted though, that he wouldn't make it.

Dave Cade: Once a person hears the word cancer, I think a lot of hope leaves because cancer is, the C word is something you never want to hear, when it pertains to you or your family. It' just almost seems as an unbeatable thing in your life.

Dawn Cade: And especially the AML, because they told us that was one of the fastest moving cancers you could get, and it was a devastating diagnosis.

Dave Cade: I was feeling so bad. I think that was something the good Lord put in the whole process is you're feeling so bad that somebody else has to answer the questions for you and hold the hope because I was so far down, the word hope never entered my mind. The hope of a cure never entered my mind. I was... I think I was closer than two weeks to go. That's how bad I felt.

Dawn Cade: He went over his results and said that he thought he would qualify for the study, but he needed to do some more testing. So we immediately got all the testing done for that and he contacted us and said he qualified for the study. So they immediately put him in the hospital for seven days. They released him on the seventh day. They did a bone marrow biopsy on the eighth day and they couldn't find a trace of the AML and now we're 33 months out and we still haven't got a trace.

Finding Hope After an AML Diagnosis

Dave Cade: As long as you're still breathing air, there is hope, and we've had many discussions of people that sit in the waiting room with us every month. I have to go in to the oncologist every 28 days to get my medication renewed and we've had plenty of talks with people sitting in the waiting room that we have seen that looked like they had given up and we start talking our story and you can see a smile come on their face.

Dawn Cade: A positive attitude goes a long way. Dave has the most positive attitude and even the doctors say that that is a big part of the cure even.

Dave Cade: Yep.

Dawn Cade: Is staying positive. You've got to keep you and your spouse or your family, have got to keep that positive attitude.

Dave Cade: You hear a lot of patients say it's inconvenient to go in every 28 days for a new prescription and to see the oncologist. But, you know, I look forward to going in every 28 days because in that waiting room, I used to think it was depressing and now I love getting in that waiting room and telling my story to people that are just starting the journey. I think I've touched quite a few people in that waiting room, so I really like going in every 28 days and seeing the people, not seeing the shape they're in, but seeing how I can help, the way I was helped.

Dawn Cade: His doctor always says we need to post him out there in the waiting room and give him a job.

After sharing their story Dawn headed down the street to help their son paint his kitchen cabinets. Dave is contemplating his next construction project and collecting laughs in the waiting room.

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