Thursday, September 8, 2016

Conventional Chemotherapy

Today, Thursday 9/8/16, is day 11 of the second cycle of chemo treatments. That is 11 days since the start of round two. That round took 5 and a half days so I am 5 and a half days post treatment. Confusing, but that is how they count the days from the start not the end. So far no pneumonia. My white cell counts took a dive to 0.4 yesterday but the hemoglobin (red cells) and platelets were good. It is common for white cell counts to go down during the first 15 to 21 days so I guess all is normal for now.

We travel back to MDA on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays each week for labs and reviews and with a doctor appointment on next Friday the 16th.  With good counts no transfusions are needed. These are not bad except very time consuming, 4 hours minimum, and less effective the more frequently they become necessary.

We must be very cautious with such low white counts, however. Infections are my worst enemy, now. If things progress well for about two weeks we may see positive results. This is speculation on my part but always hopeful. But for now I have to avoid crowds, sick people, etc. Wearing a surgical mask is the norm when out and about even when uncomfortable for me and those who see me. A touch of feeling discriminated against, I suppose. This is the way it is as we do what has to be done to stay as healthy as possible.

Last year I was lulled into a false sense of security with my remission seemingly steady. Things changed quickly, however when the "miracle drug" stopped working. Then new mutations were identified in my bone marrow which no targeted therapies were available. Therefore, more traditional chemotherapy was needed to kill all cancer cells in my blood and bone marrow instead of trials and treatments which target specific mutations. The problem with this course of chemo is that side effects are more harmful, i.e. infections like ones that cause pneumonia. Also it seems this is more of a stop-gap approach with short term goals. Long-term is to cure my disease that only happens with a stem cell transplant, a risky procedure for me. So we work to get me healthy enough for the stem cell transplant and decide if this is best for me when and if we ever get healthy enough to make that a good possibility.

In the mean time I fight this MDS (leukemia) with whatever is available and reasonable. Prayer still works so all who see this and who have faith in prayer please continue to keep us in your prayers.

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