My Fight with Leukemia…Part 1

My name is Brian DiBartolomeo and this is my story.

Today is February 17, 2016, it is officially 2 years since I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and I thought my life was over.

I am starting this blog to talk about the things I went through during this process and maybe to help others who are going through similar situations.

I want to thank my wife, Valerie, for the amazing support she gave me throughout treatment and during recovery.  Our company and family would have fallen apart without her strength.  She is the most amazing woman on the planet and the love of my life!

We both want to acknowledge that none of my recovery would have been possible without God’s loving hand directing the doctors and nurses at Karmanos Cancer Center through my treatment and continuing today.  God is Great!

So, how does one go about getting diagnosed with leukemia, which is a blood cancer for those who don’t know.

Well, it started when my wife and oldest daughter, Alexa, went with Kristie Lynch on a trip to Key West.

On February 14th, our youngest son, Brady, and I went to the Oakland University vs. U of Detroit Basketball game.  It was a great time and a great game…mostly because the Grizzlies won!

Then on February 15th, I went with my father-in-law, Gordie, to see Billy Joel live at the Palace of Auburn Hills.  It was a great show, but when the last song started I got a pain in my stomach that felt like the worst gas bubble ever.  That last song?  “Only the Good Die Young”.  Nearest Valerie and I have been able to tell, I probably had other symptoms, but God chose that song, by my favorite artist, to tell me to get it checked out.  He was giving me a pain at a time when I would pay attention.

Once I got home, my mother-in-law, Julie, had Brady in bed and I was in such bad pain that I had to sit on the stairway in our house just to keep from showing the pain I was in.

When Gordie and Julie left, I went to my room to sleep.  Brady came in because he wanted to say goodnight and I told him I was sorry I felt a bit sick then but that on Sunday we would go to Kensington Church, then another Oakland University game, and then to Dave and Busters.  He loved the plan and went to bed.  I, on the other hand, did not.

I spent the night of the 15th in the most pain I had ever felt and that pain moved to my back.  I took everything we had in the house, from Nyquil to laxatives, trying to relieve the pain I was in.

The next morning, I text Valerie and told her about the pain and said I probably just had some major constipation and gas, and she agreed.  I told her I loved her and tried to get comfortable again.

Brady came into the room to see why I hadn’t gotten him up for church and I told him I just needed another hour or so because I didn’t feel good.  Seeing his face and then having our dog, Apollo, jump on me made me realize that I was not going to be able to handle my job as Dad to either of them.  So, I did what every boy does when they don’t feel good, I called my Mom and Dad.  I asked my Mom to come watch Brady and my Dad to take me to Crittenton Hospital.

Then the real fun began.  Stay tuned…

15 thoughts on “My Fight with Leukemia…Part 1

    1. Thanks Sharon, I have been planning on writing the experience up for too long. Time to commit it to history. Luckily I took a bunch of notes at the beginning, the rest will be memories and current events.

      Valerie will be giving her side from time to time and I know it will be an interesting aspect of the story.



    1. John, Thank you for the kind note. I am hoping that I am a one and done with the leukemia, but it is not up to me, it is up to God. I just go where He takes me!

      Valerie wants me to run a half marathon. It is supposed to be a family goal. I was running 10 miles before leukemia, and as I told my younger daughter last night, I don’t think I could out run a guy chasing me with an axe!

      I will stay in touch, and you do the same.

      #FTK (For the King)



    1. Thanks Brian! Been a long time since we were running a fraternity, too long!

      Miss talking to you, man. Give me a call or stop by when you are in the area.

      As a political junkie, you should know, I have to put up with a lot of Trump workers in our new building. They moved in upstairs and it is a party every night up there.


  1. 4/15
    Stay strong my Friend. I will keep you in my Prayers. Family is the strongest drug that we have, the rest is up to the Man upstairs. Fighting a smaller fight. CML for the past 5 years. Blessed as you are with a Great Wife and great Family.
    Looking forward to meeting you someday.
    Dan Rubino


    1. Dan,

      There is no smaller fight. You have a lot to go through and need to always continue to be a fighter.

      God is great and with him all things are possible.

      If you are ever in Rochester, Michigan, let me know.



  2. Hey Brian,
    10 year ALL survivor. Please if you need to chat, please feel free. I am 31, diagnosed at 18. I’m here for you. Focus on every single minute, every single second. It’s worth it.


    1. Thank you Mike. It was a tough time. I was just turning 45 and they were talking about a lot of stuff I wasn’t wanting to be part of.

      Luckily, with the best wife in the world, I came through the other side with the doctors using “cured” in a lot of sentences.

      It has made me work so hard to make sure my new normal and old normal are as close to each other as possible.



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