Meet Rose ~

Hi, my name is Rose Skeels and I have LGL Leukemia/Rheumatoid Arthritis.

In 2008, working as an Account Manager for a large Insurance Company, I found myself calling in sick more often than I ever had in my 24-year career.  A series of sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, flu and I just could not stay out of the doctor’s office and was on antibiotics almost constantly.

Towards the end of that year I saw a new doctor, as my regular doctor was on maternity leave, and he immediately noticed that something was wrong. He asked a bunch of questions and told me he wanted to run some blood tests to see what was going on with my white blood count.  Upon seeing the results, he referred me to an oncologist that specialized in blood disease. I wasn’t sure what to think, but at this point I just wanted to feel like myself again.

I made the appointment and after a series of blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy, I finally learned that I had LGL Leukemia.  I was shocked, scared, confused; in my eyes, a doctor had just told me I was going to die. I had a loving husband, a son in college, a daughter in high school and my little girl who was about to start kindergarten.  I still had a lot of living to do in this life! I still have kids to raise and a husband to grow old with.  I immediately began researching this disease and realized that there was not much research on it and a lot of people didn’t even know it existed.

Explaining this disease to people was hard and I felt they did not understand the complications that came with this disease.  I took a leave of absence from work, as it was causing me a lot of stress and I was not healing, I was getting worse.  I was put on steroids at first and then went through several months of watchful waiting.  My neutropia blood levels where elevated and my white blood cells where way low. I was not doing well and was feeling very lost and depressed. I turned to my Faith and gave this illness to God to help heal me.

While on a weekend get away with my husband, I had my first RA flare up and I thought this was the end of the road for me. The pain I felt was unbearable. I just could not imagine living my life with this pain.  That’s when methotrexate became my best friend.  I was then put a regiment of RA meds and methotrexate.  I had come to find out that methotrexate is a perfect drug for both RA and LGL leukemia.  After several months on my new meds, I found my blood count looked a little better.  However, my liver has been taking a beating with all the medications its had to process.

I am currently scheduled to get a liver biopsy to see if all the meds are starting to affect my liver, as my current blood results indicate that my liver enzymes are elevated.  Which may be permanent liver damage.  Every year its seems to be something else going on with my body.   I have taken great measures to work on my health.  I have seen a natural path, dietician, and I now have an exercise routine that includes hot yoga, running and stretching.  Every day is a blessing and a new adventure.  I want the world to know about this very rare cancer, so more research can be done.

I have contacted Dr. Loughran and we have emailed back and forth, as I have found he is the only doctor that has done extensive research on this debilitating disease and actually discovered, LGLL.  My goal is to start a 5K & 10K walk/run, to raise money for research and help the LGL Leukemia Foundation and spread the word.

I live my life to the fullest every day and I don’t take anything for granted. I cherish my husband, my kids and my extended family more than ever.  I have made some wonderful friends along the way and hold them near to my heart.  God is good and so am I.

~ Hugs, Rose Skeels

09/05/2014 – Seattle, Washington