“I was absolutely lucky to have been diagnosed with no prior symptoms.”

I’m 58 with a wife and 3 adult sons. I’ve lived in the cities of Saint John, Fredericton, Sydney and Halifax before moving back to New Brunswick and settling in Moncton. So depending on who I’m talking to, I’m either a Cape Bretoner or a New Brunswicker but no matter how you look at it, I’ve got Celtic blood in me – one of the risk factors for hereditary hemochromatosis.

I was diagnosed with hemochromatosis by a seemingly random blood test approximately 6 years ago.

I had gone to a health clinic which chose to do a broad spectrum of blood tests. My ferritin level came back slightly high. I went back to the health clinic two months later and it was much higher, at over 600 ng/mL. I was then scheduled to see a specialist, Dr. Rubin, an amazing oncologist and hematologist. He has since retired and has a new clinic at The Moncton Hospital named after him: the Dr. Sheldon H. Rubin Oncology Clinic. I received a quick confirmation of hemochromatosis and then started my phlebotomies. Initially I was doing one phlebotomy per week for a few months and then one every two weeks, and then one per month. Eventually my phlebotomy frequency was lowered to my now permanent schedule of one every two months (if required).

As a younger adult, I had donated blood many times giving well in excess of 70 donations. I had cut down for no particular reason but also had no symptoms related to hemochromatosis. I believe this may have delayed my iron loading, which was detected virtually as soon as my ferritin began rising.

I have two sisters and two brothers, and so far three out of the four have been tested and are not affected by iron overload. Of my three sons, two have been tested and are also not affected by it.

I was absolutely lucky to have been diagnosed with no prior symptoms. This was clearly the result of the health clinic, Institut Santé Optimale/Optimal Health Institute, running a broad spectrum of blood tests as a preventative assessment. Without that, I may very well have been another patient with undiagnosed symptoms.