Leukemia Survivor Shares Her Inspiring Journey


“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”

Olivia Pexman was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2016. She has successfully defeated her disease.

The Diagnosis

“In 2015 I had two miscarriages and couldn’t understand why or what was happening. I was adamant I was going to get to the bottom of it so I kept going to the doctors trying to demand tests. They just kept passing it off saying I’m young and I have plenty of time but I didn’t want to just let it go.

April 3th 2016 they agreed to start looking into things so they called me in for a blood test to start things off. When the results came back I was called in and they told me they thought I had B12 deficiency, and they sent me away and told me to return in a month to see if my bloods came back the same then they would go from there. So May 5th I went in around 11am had my bloods done and went home, 6pm that same day I got a phone call from my doctor.

She asked if I was at home, I said yes. She went on to tell me my bloods have come back and showing signs of leukemia. I could not tell you another word she said in that phone call as I just went completely numb. My mum tried to phone back once I got off the phone and told her she didn’t believe what I was saying, but the receptionist had said because it was after 6pm and I was over 18 she couldn’t talk to her. So I had to wait till my appointment the next day at 11.30am.

She just confirmed what she had said on the phone the night before and said I would be receiving a phone call from castle hill hospital in hull within the next few days. Friday 7th of May 2016 I was admitted to have a bone marrow biopsy and I didn’t leave after that for 7 weeks. I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.”

The Journey

“My journey has been up and down, I’ve always been a very positive person so I tried not to let it phase me too much but obviously I had days when I just couldn’t. I started off having 4 rounds of chemotherapy each being about 4 weeks long. So I was staying in hospital 4-6 weeks and having 2 weeks at home in-between each cycle. I went into remission after my first round of chemo but I still had a gene that would just bring it straight back if I didn’t have the other 3 rounds so I plodded on and had the other 3.

My last chemo was September 2016, when my bone marrow results came back, I was leukaemia free but still had 0.5% of this gene left but they wanted to see what happened if they stopped treatment and monitored me very closely with biopsies every 8 weeks. February 2017 I relapsed, to me this was worse than being diagnosed in the beginning as I knew what I was up against. So this time round my plan was different, I was to have 1 round of the strongest chemo there is at hull and then radiotherapy, chemo and a bone marrow transplant in Nottingham.

I had genuinely never been so scared in all my life. I was 21 years old and I didn’t know what was round the corner for me. Going through this journey took away the person I was, it drained the life out of me and not just because I was physically exhausted. I can honestly say I am 15 months post-transplant now and I’m only just getting back to myself and finding who I used to be.”

Motivation to fight cancer

“My motivation to fight cancer was for my family, my fiancé and for the people I’ve lost to this awful illness. I wanted to kick it for them as well as myself and for the fact I was 21 and wasn’t ready to give up.”

Biggest hindrance

“Relapsing after I thought it was all over, and having to go through it all a second time. The transplant was the hardest part it took me over a year to recover from it.”

Message to other cancer patients

“Be positive, stay strong and don’t stop smiling.”

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