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Beloved sportscaster Jamie Campbell 'sees life differently' following cancer diagnosis

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Sportscaster Jamie Campbell has always been active. But he says he lives life with greater zest since being diagnosed with a common blood cancer in January 2021.

“It was a random blood test,” says the host of Toronto Blue Jays telecasts. “So truthfully, after I had gotten the blood test, I wasn’t expecting a phone call. And when that call came in, it revealed this diagnosis of CLL.”

Campbell said he knew about leukemia but had never heard of CLL, also known as chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

“It’s one of the most common forms of blood cancer that affects about 2,000 patients, newly diagnosed in Canada every year,” Dr. Christine Chen, a hematologist at Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, told CTV News Toronto.

While the majority of patients are diagnosed in their 60s and 70s, Chen notes she also has patients in their 20s.

CLL is highly treatable, and patients without symptoms do not require any treatment.

That’s how it was for Campbell in the first 14 months after diagnosis, until recently.

“My white blood cell count became alarmingly high and I had lymph nodes exploding out of my armpits and my neck, and my spleen had grown. And that was the indication that it was time to be treated,” he said.

Campbell was put on medications and six weeks ago, he started taking Brukinsa, a new drug recently approved by Health Canada.

While it isn’t a cure, the hope is that patients like Campbell can live full lives while taking this drug. By the time it’s no longer effective for them, a new medication will be available.

Campbell, now 56, says, if anything, his workout regimen has grown more intense since his diagnosis. His doctors have said maintaining his fitness is key and he’s eager to stay active while he can.

For Campbell, he says he sees his diagnosis as a blessing in disguise.

“As odd as that may sound, in my case it has, because I see life differently. I spend time with the people I love in a different manner” he said. “It’s almost like a light shines on them that I never got to enjoy prior to this diagnosis.”

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