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Imatinib Patient Perspective

This personal story by Doug Jenson was published in December 2008 as part of the special ASH anniversary brochure, 50 Years in Hematology: Research That Revolutionized Patient Care.

I had been a high-energy guy all my life, always able to keep going as long as necessary, whether for work or for fun. I did several of the Cascade Runoffs, Cycle Oregons, and Hood to Coast Relays. Then in September 1997, things changed. My wife joked that maybe "Mr. Indestructable" was just getting older, but then I started coughing, sometimes so hard and so long that I'd choke and nearly pass out.

After several months of prescribing antibiotics, my physician decided it was time to do a CBC blood test. Well, maybe I have to admit to getting older, but it turned out that chronic myelogenous leukemia was the culprit.

I was referred to Dr. Jeffrey Menache who gave us the sobering news of a three- to five-year life expectancy under current treatments. He also gave us the hopeful news that OHSU was doing some really interesting things with CML; however, they were not yet conducting human trials. About the time that we found that my body wouldn't tolerate interferon, I got the call from OHSU that Dr. Druker was ready to evaluate my suitability for their human study, which would start in the spring.

Long story short, I have been taking the drug Gleevec for nine-and-a-half years. I am healthy, happy, and active. There are a few side effects and those few are minor. For six years, bone marrow and nested blood tests have shown no detectable Philadelphia chromosomes. Needless to say, my family and I are profoundly grateful to Dr. Druker and his team, including Carolyn Blasdel, my nurse.