Patricia Drennan: Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Patricia Drennan: Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Just keep on keeping on and believe. Everyone’s got the strength!

Patricia Drennan says, “I’ve always been a strong person. As the oldest girl in a family of 7 children, from a young age, I was looked to care for my brothers and sisters”.

Her strength and care for her family continued throughout her life. At 72 years old, she was still strong, active, working as a waitress, and surprising co-workers and patrons alike with her energy.

Then, Patricia recalled a day over 3 years ago. She was walking through the grocery store in Demotte, IN when she began struggling to breathe and her heart palpitated. She called her sister, Kathleen, who helped her get to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Crown Point, IN.   She remembered the day two doctors entered her room and told her she had AML. They continued that they were unable to treat her. She felt she was dying. The doctors suggested she see a Leukemia specialist, Dr. Michael Drazer in Chicago. Over the next weeks she endured tests, procedures, and continued to struggle. “I didn’t think I was going to live at the beginning. I felt horrible, I remember being in such pain in the hospital that I asked a nurse to let me die.” But Patricia persevered with the strength that had served her well all her life.

Dr. Drazer and his team created a plan to treat Patricia. A native of the same NW Indiana community in which Patricia lived, he referred her to Dr. Michael Tallarico at Northwest Cancer Centers so Patricia could receive care close to home. Patricia began working with Dr. Tallarico immediately. Soon, she was on a treatment regimen that has netted unexpectedly positive results. She describes how life began to change. She no longer feels the pain and discomfort like she did getting her tests in Chicago.  “First, I started feeling better and better and better. Then, when I went in for labs my platelets and other counts were getting better and better and better. Now day to day I feel good. I have a bum knee and because of the treatment, I can’t get it fixed. But besides that, I feel so much better”.

Patricia’s response to treatment has been so clinically significant that two papers have been published in medical journals citing her case.

Patricia is now a survivor of nearly 4 years and counting. When asked to summarize the last 4 years, she smiled and described her gratitude to the thousands of strangers on Facebook who sent her words of encouragement, her granddaughter Nicole who does her grocery shopping, Kathleen and her husband Harvey who took care of her in the early days before she began to recover, her driver from Azmot Logistics who's become her friend, and how surprised she was with what a “happy place and great experience it is coming to get treatments at Northwest Cancer Centers. Everyone is so kind it makes me feel good when I’m here”.  

As far as advise for anyone who faces a new cancer diagnosis, her smile returned as she said “Just keep on keeping on and believe. Everyone’s got the strength!”