Lou Longo, diagnosed at 34

The doctors called me “Miracle Boy.” I just wanted to live. How could an annoying cold have transcended into a near-death experience and a complete upheaval of what I once expected my life to be? It was all so crazy, dramatic and happened with such lightning speed, that maybe it could have happened to someone else — in a movie, written by someone with a wild imagination. But it was real, and I was the main character.

I was 34 years old and living the American Dream. I had a great job, great family, and was in the prime of my life. My beautiful wife and I had two fantastic sons who were just about to turn 3 and 5 years old. I’d been fighting off a cold for about two months and just couldn’t shake it. What should have been no big deal turned into various bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.

A few weeks and three doctors later, I had a diagnosis: acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Because of the damage the cancer had already done to my body, I suffered lung and other organ failure and my condition forced the doctors to put me in a medically-induced coma for more than seven weeks.

“Cancer is a very humbling disease, but it’s true when they say that if it doesn’t kill ya, it will make you stronger.”

While in the ICU, I survived with a ventilator, feeding tube and other mechanical devices while the doctors pumped my body with intensive chemotherapy – and constant blood and platelet transfusions. After the first 10 days of treatment, my body was seriously failing – and resisting the chemo. I had the “Rites of Passage” administered and doctors told my family and friends, “We have done everything we can for him medically; he is in God’s hands tonight.”

Those doctors saw my survival as a miracle, and I’m here to tell the story. It’s a story that changed me from the inside out. Prior to getting sick, I would use words like arrogant and selfish to describe how I lived my life; I was focused on me first. Cancer is a very humbling disease, but it’s true when they say that if it doesn’t kill ya, it will make you stronger.

Despite the one year of treatment, therapy and rehabilitation that cancer forced me to endure, I consider myself a better person and truly blessed. I don’t sweat the little things and truly appreciate all that I have, especially family, friends and good health.

Mostly, though, it’s a story that I want to use to help others. Make the most of your life. And don’t ignore symptoms that don’t go away when you know that they should be long gone. If you have early symptoms, act early. It can save your life.


  • persistent cold
  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis