Julia Roberts blog

February 28, 2013

There is something I have to tell you...

As all of you who read my blog regularly know, my book 'One Hundred Lengths of the Pool' comes out on Monday, but there is an additional chapter, One Hundred and One, that I was not expecting to write, and that is the chapter I need to tell you about today.

Throughout the time I had been writing my book, I had also been working full time at QVC and I must confess that at times I felt overwhelmingly tired. Maybe that's why I decided that it would be sensible to have a comprehensive health check. I had been working hard and I was approaching fifty-five... I looked on it as a kind of MOT for the body.

Everything on the day was fine with the exception of one of the blood tests, which had to be sent away for further analysis, which I was assured was fairly routine. However, two days later, I received a phone call from the doctor, as I was preparing to go 'on air' at QVC, recommending that I see a Consultant Haematologist as soon as possible as I had a very high white blood count, WBC. That was on the Thursday evening and the following Monday I was at University College Hospital in central London. 
The registrar started by asking me if I had been feeling unwell and I said no, just very fatigued. He checked my neck, under my arms and my groin for swollen lymph glands, and my abdomen just under my ribcage, which I later learnt was to see if my spleen was enlarged.

He was then very direct with me. "Are you a person who likes to know everything up front, or would you prefer to wait until we have got all the test results back?" he asked. "I am definitely the former," I replied. That was when he told me that the blood test that day showed an even higher WBC of 42.8 and that it was probable that I had chronic myeloid leukaemia, known as CML.

To confirm his suspicions, he said that I would need to have a bone marrow biopsy, which he would prefer me to have done immediately in order not to delay the diagnosis any longer than necessary, and so begin treatment as soon as possible. I agreed to have the biopsy done straight away and then emailed QVC to say that I would not be available for my shift that evening.

Ten days later the diagnosis was confirmed, I have chronic myeloid leukaemia. It is quite a rare type of blood cancer with only around six hundred cases a year in the UK and currently it is not curable without a bone marrow transplant, but it can be controlled with targeted chemotherapy drugs. For the first three months the only people who knew were my family, who have been magnificent in their love and support for me, and my immediate boss at QVC, Mike, without whose kindness and consideration regarding shift patterns I could not have continued to work.

I wanted to be able to work, even though I was incredibly tired and suffering some unpleasant side effects from the drugs, to keep a modicum of normality in my life as the shock of the diagnosis and the fact that I would now be on long term medication, potentially for the rest of my life, really sank in. It is so alien for me to take any kind of tablets, even headache pills, and yet without the drugs I now have to take I would not survive, so it has had to become an accepted part of my life.

As you can imagine it is very difficult for me to share this bad news with you all as I didn't want to upset you and I don't want you to worry. I needed to be sure that the chemotherapy drugs that I have been on since my diagnosis were doing their job to bring the CML under control.

I had a set back in October when the results of one of my regular blood tests revealed that I wasn't progressing as well as hoped. I had an anxious couple of weeks waiting for test results to determine whether I had become resistant to the medication or whether the dosage needed to be increased. Fortunately it was the latter and the drugs are currently working well. The latest visit with my Professor was encouraging.

I promise I will keep you up to date with my progress from now on and I hope you will understand my reasons for not telling you sooner and why I am telling you now. I didn't want you to just read about it in chapter 101... it didn't seem right.

Talking of the book, I can now reveal that the latest winner of my competition is Alana Hughes from Preston - congrats! And there's still the chance to win a personalised signed copy in our final competition. As its first airing will be in the Morning Show on Monday. as part of our 'Mothers and Daughters' event, I thought this would be an appropriate question: What is my daughter's name?

To enter, email your answer with your full name and address to competitions_uk@qvc.com before midnight on Sunday (3rd March). We won't be able to publish any answers that get posted here or they will give the answer away! I will reveal the winner my blog next week.

Julia x

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Hello Julia,

I have no words to write, as I am in shock at reading your blog, but please know that you are in my thoughts, and sending you huge, enormous hugs, full of love.

Thinking of you,
Lots of love, Samantha xx

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Dear Julia,
I am so shocked to hear of your illness but delighted to hear that the treatment is working well. Please accept my best wishes for continuing good response to your medication.
Take care,
Margot x

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Hi Julia, I am so shaken at your news and have to let you know that I send my very best wishes to you and your family who must be shocked at this turn of events . I always enjoy your shows and as happens when we watch someone on TV we feel we know you, I hope your health improves and look forward to seeing you again soon on QVC but take care, good luck with the book . Love and best wishes Diane x

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MY PRECIOUS JULIA!!! YOU and my JEFF are and always will be in my PRAYERS well or NOT!! I know you will be well with all the LUV that is and always has been going your way on both sides of the ATLANTIC!! Maybe someday somehow I will be able to get your book and we can have our long awaited beach time on Barefoot in Naples, FL!! LUV YOU TO BITS!!! XXXXXXX OOOOOOO

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My thoughts are with you Julia, take care xxx

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Julia my thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family. I know from past experience with family how cancer can impact on life's. Take good care of yourself x

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Hi Julia

I'm so sorry to hear your news, but it sounds like things are under control now and I pray that this will continue for you. Your naturally bubbly personality is a real asset for you now and I'm sure that you will also gain strength from the masses of support you will get from family, friends and viewers. Take care and God Bless.

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Julia you are such a strong, courageous and beautiful lady. How brave you are knowing what you did, but still managing to come onto our screens and look amazing and smile.
Long may your positive results from each hospital appointment continue.
Your inspirational,
Sarah. x

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Hi Julia,
I have just read your news, I do feel for you and hope everything goes well for you. It is nice that you have the support of your family and I am sure from your work colleagues.

It must have been an awful blow when you got the results as it is something everyone dreads. Lets hope it can be kept under control with the drugs and you do not get to many side affects.

I am looking forward to reading your book, I see it has been sent off by QVC.

Anyway you take care and I will be thinking of you.

Love Jean XXX

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Hi Julia

I saw you on the Clogau show and thought you did not seem your usual self and put it down to your flu. This also explains why you have not been on screen so much.

What a great family you have and partner in Chris to support you through this ordeal which must have been horrendous. Although I have never met you personally I send you big hugs and and warm wishes. And know that your blogettes support you all the way.

The positive is that now it is being controlled it will make you even stronger in spirit.

The good news is that your book is on its way to me yippee! I think a box of tissues and a glass of wine are needed when I start reading. And this has made me even more determined to do this myself.

Realised too late that you were on with Marjolein as I would have sent you a question wonder what she would have thought of our class nickname of Pirates?

Anyway enough rambling and enjoy your launch on Monday you deserve it!


Joy xx

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Julia - all I can say is how amazingly strong you have been to face up to your diagnosis and keep on working. May the chemo drugs work as well as possible for as long as possible and have minimal side effects. I post on Ali Keenan's blog as I have secondary breast cancer and have just had to change drugs. People say how strong and brave I am but the truth is that I face it and have the drugs because the alternative is not an option.

I am sure you are being well looked after at UCLH. Sending loads of positive vibes to you and your family and friends.

Liz x

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Thank goodness you decided on the Mot for yourself Julia. Such a shock for you and your loved ones. Sending you our best wishes and hopes for you to continue to feel well on your treatment. Have seen you on quite a few shows since your diagnosis and would never have guessed.

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Julia im am sorry to here about this horrible illness you have but i am glad that your medication is helping i will pray for you and your family take care of yourself Love Wilma

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Dear Julia, I have always thought that there is no rhyme or reason in life and your news is proof of that. Your grace and courage are evident from your words even though you must feel shattered by what has happened. Just over two years ago I sat at this desk with tears pouring down my face after reading a very similar post from Ali and as many tears are falling now. Having been with QVC from 'Day One' I feel that I know some of the presenters and you've been a regular in my life for all that time, as I told you recently you sold me my first item and many, many more since! I replied to all Alison's blogs during her illness because if she could write to us we so wanted to write back to her and I continue to do that - I was also the one who came up with the name "Ali's Army" and we're all there for you. Sending you lots of love and positive thoughts. Jx X

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Hi Julia,I am so sorry to hear your sad news. I hope that the medication will do the job and you will be able to get used to these changed circumstances. All the very very best. And as we Germans say: toi, toi toi!!! which means the best of luck. xXx

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Hi Julia

I'm really upset to hear about your illness but you're going to be fine you're an amazing person and I love you to bits. I'll be sending out healing and energy everyday for you for the next fifty-five years of your life.

Take care

Graeme xxx

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Hi Julia, here is a big hugeeee hug from Wales (((((( hugs ))))) you are such a beautiful person. Sending love to you & your fantastic family, while you cope with the illness. Hugs in Welsh are called CWTCHES...you need plenty of these. Hopefully the medication is not to severe for you.Get well. Xxxxxx

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Dear Julia,

So sorry to hear about your illness, along with everyone else I hope the treatments keep it under control.

Sending you lots of positive thoughts, love and hugs.

Jess xx

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Hi Julia

I am so very sorry to hear that you are not well
I hope that all goes well with the treatment & you are back to good health very soon. BIG {{{{HUGS}}}} for you & your family
for your speedy recovery
God bless xxxxxx

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Sending you hugs and lots of good wishes!

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Julia I am so sorry to hear you have been unwell,i had kidney cancer some years ago and I am fine now,will pray for you and your family,god bless you Julia.x

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Absolutely gutted to read that news Julia. Thoughts and best wishes to you and hopefully a speedy recovery xxx

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Hi Julia, I am so sad to hear your news, Please keep positive,I have missed you,and will be pleased to see you among your freinds
at QVC and watching at home
love Elaine

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Julia so sorry to read about your illness,like so many others I feel as if I know you ,you have inspired me to wear bright colours,eat more healthy , and many other things to, I allways try to watch you when you are on qvc because you are so funny, and a beautifull lady ,you alsow have a special loving family to support you ,take care thinking of you
Hefina xx

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Hello Julia, I have read with shock at your news and am sending you all my love and you will continue to be in my prayers. You are such a lovely lady so professional and so courageous and I hope the medication does it job and keeps it under control without too many side effects xxxxxxx

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