Actor Charlie Schlatter takes positive approach to fighting rare cancer

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Actor Charlie Schlatter is raising money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society amid his own battle with leukemia. (KABC)

Actor Charlie Schlatter's career has spanned 30 years. He's worked opposite legends like George Burns and Dick Van Dyke. Now, Schlatter is talking publicly about something he's kept private for a decade.

He's living with chronic myeloid leukemia. It's a cancer of the blood.

Schlatter went to his doctor thinking he had a spider bite. Before he knew it, he was sent to a specialist, and his white blood count was off the charts.

"They're telling me, 'you're a mess' and I'm 97 percent infected with leukemic cells," Schlatter said. "I gotta get to the hospital pronto."

Schlatter said his leukemia is not curable, but highly treatable and highly manageable.

"So basically, I'm a guy who's in chemotherapy every day," Schlatter said. "Just a little bit of chemotherapy every day, and that's what keeps me in the game."

Right now, he's competing in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man and Woman of the Year fundraising campaign. His goal is $336,000, representing the number of white blood cells he once had in his body.

Through donations, and through experiences you can bid on at charitybuzz.com. The fundraisers are aiming to raise money to help people and fund research.

"In a spiritual way, if we look at ourselves as these vines just kind of growing aimlessly in life, every now and then, somebody -- God? -- snips you and it hurts," Schlatter said. "But when you grow back, you grow back with direction and purpose."

For one of his fundraisers, Schlatter will be doing a show May 18 and 19 with comedic actress Mindy Sterling at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood.
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