Essential Thrombocythemia (ET)


    “I may be living with ET, but at least I'm living.”

    Nancy Francis
    Essential Thrombocythemia Patient
    Gander Bay, Newfoundland

    The doctors warned Nancy’s family she might not return to her old self; the Nancy everyone knew before the stroke was gone.

    For Nancy, there wasn’t a gradual warning something was wrong, just headaches and vision problems, but that didn’t seem serious. Forty years old at the time, Nancy was in seemingly good health until her husband found her on a December morning in a dream-like state that he couldn’t awaken her from.

    When Nancy finally woke up she was confused and groggy and wanted to know what the noise from the other room was. Her husband Leonard explained it was their daughter’s alarm clock who was at home visiting from college. Nancy argued their daughter was in elementary school. Leonard, becoming increasingly worried, instructed Nancy to get dressed. He was taking her to the hospital. Something was wrong.

    But when Leonard went back upstairs he found Nancy standing in their bedroom crying. She didn’t understand what she was supposed to be doing.

    “It really didn’t hit me how serious Nancy was until the nurse in emergency started asking her basic questions like her name and she didn’t answer any of them correctly. I knew at that moment Nancy was seriously sick and I got really scared. It was at that moment that I knew we couldn’t do this on our own so I turned to God for guidance and healing.” Leonard says.

    After several tests at the hospital, the doctors explained Nancy had a stroke that affected the emotional part of her brain. They warned her family she may not return to her old self. Doctors also told her family not only was her blood pressure extremely high, but her platelets were also too. For three agonizing days, her family waited and prayed. And then on the third day, Leonard’s prayers were answered. Nancy started to improve.

    “This diagnosis has changed my life in many ways, but I can honestly say that I’m thankful that this has all happened. Sounds crazy I know but I thank God every day for my life.” Nancy says.

    Nancy is fortunate in that she has no lasting effects from her stroke. Over time, she regained her energy, and with an official diagnosis of Essential Thrombocythemia, is now receiving proper treatment and still enjoys her passions of kayaking and running. In fact, she plans to run a ten-mile road race this Spring.

    Most importantly though Nancy is grateful for quality time with her husband and two daughters Hannah and Sarah. And with two grown daughters, Nancy and Leonard who have been married twenty-one years were finally able to enjoy their first couple’s trip to the Dominican Republic this past January and hope to return soon. Clearly, Nancy’s spirit for life isn’t going to keep her still. As she puts it, “I may be living with ET, but at least I’m living.”

    Contributed by Jennifer Acker

    These represent first person accounts of real people living with Essential Thrombocythemia, Polycythemia Vera and Myelofibrosis. It does not represent the views or opinions of anyone associated with the MPN Research Foundation. Please consult your doctor before taking any action to manage your health.

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