As part of AML World Awareness Day 2022, we recently caught up with Shaun Steer who has been undertaking treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) for the past two years.

Shaun was first diagnosed with AML back on 21st April 2020. After not feeling well for a few months, he was originally told it was just a chest infection and was handed a course of antibiotics to try and clear it up. When the “chest infection” didn’t budge, Shaun decided he needed to get a second opinion at his local A&E.

The hospital carried out a number of tests including a bone marrow biopsy before he received his final diagnosis.

I felt empty, emotional. Worried about my future for my kid’s sake. I was scared! The staff told me that if I had waited any longer to get checked out, then it could have been too late! I was devastated as I knew this would change everything for me.” Shaun explained.

He was required to start treatment as soon as possible in order to start fighting back against the leukaemia in his body. He was transferred over to Canterbury Hospital’s Braeburn Ward – a dedicated ward for leukaemia patients but unfortunately as his course of treatment was due to begin, Shaun received a further crushing blow.

“I was told by the usually smiley and happy nurses on the ward that my last Covid swab had come back positive. This pretty much crushed me inside. I was coming to terms with the leukaemia diagnosis and was ready for treatment but then to be told this was to me like a death sentence. I honestly thought that that was it.”

Shaun was quickly transferred from Canterbury over to the University College London Hospital and taken to a Covid ward, at which point he was starting to become really ill. After a couple of days, he was moved over to Intensive Care and was placed into a coma for the next three weeks.

Whilst battling Covid, Shaun still had to contend with starting treatment to combat his AML. Because of his positive test, he could not undertake the planned heavy chemotherapy so was put on a clinical trial which was administered while he was in his coma.

Months later and Shaun was finally well enough to receive three rounds of chemotherapy before being told he was in remission in March 2021. He continued to have regular bone marrow biopsies before receiving the horrendous news in November that the leukaemia had returned, and he had relapsed which resulted in further treatment. He is currently undertaking a bone marrow transplant which he is hopeful will be his final hurdle and if successful, will mean that he can finally get on with his life.

“AML has affected my life massively. It feels like leukaemia has defined me for two years and counting.”

“Everyday it’s the first thing, and often the last, thing on my mind. It’s almost impossible to avoid it. I haven’t worked at my job as a Chef since I was diagnosed. I was planning to get back to work in February 2022 but unfortunately the Bone Marrow transplant has put a stop to that for the foreseeable future.”

“More importantly to me though is being able to do things with my boys like play football with them or take them out on day trips etc. My kids are my life and I don’t want to miss a thing with them.”

“To anyone who is diagnosed with AML, the most important thing I would say to them is as hard as it may seem, you need to stay positive. I was told numerous times after I woke up from my coma where it looked very bad for me – to the point where my family were told not to get their hopes up.”

“I came through it and I’m still here and fighting now because I was told it was my positive attitude and fighting spirit that pushed me through. Stay positive and hopefully you and me and everyone can beat AML.”

“I am so thankful to everyone at UCLH. I really can’t say how appreciative I am for everything they’ve done for me – and continue to do. Without them, I wouldn’t be here – it’s as simple as that.”