Cancer Update: 7 months in complete remission and getting healthier every day

Sunlight becoming sunsetSunlight becoming sunset

I’m living with a rare blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma. From February to November 2013, I was on my 4th chemo treatment called Velcade, where I had weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient, in addition to a variety of other pills taken to supplement my chemo treatment. It was an incredibly difficult treatment and I’m truly thankful to be done. Pre-blood test

You can read the background on my diagnosis and previous treatments in earlier blogposts in 2012 and 2014. I’m tyfn on twitter. 6773029276_136b952721_z

Last week I travelled to the lab to get bloodwork done. It was quick and painless, which is always a positive. These blood test results were especially important as I would be seeing my specialist the following week. I have blood tests every 5 weeks and I have appointments with my cancer specialist every 3 months. It really helps with my stress level being able to go online the next morning to see my results, thanks to myehealth, a health service available to some residents in British Columbia.

Here are my lab results from November (post-chemo) to June (last week):

Serum Proteins (Electrophoresis & Immunoglobulins) (g/L)
Date Albumin Beta Globulin 2 Gamma Globulin igG igA igM
Reference Range 34.0-53.0 1.8 – 4.8 5.1 – 15.0 6.7 – 15.2 .70 – 4.00 .40 – 2.30
June 45.3 4.0 6.6 9.9 .33 .30
May 46.5 3.5 7.3 9.2 .33 .26
Apr 47.9 2.8 7.0 9.2 .28 .23
Mar 48.3 2.8 7.0 8.9 .31 .33
Feb 51.4 2.8 6.4 7.7 .24 .38
Jan 47.6 3.0 6.2 7.5 .17 .33
Nov 45.6 3.5 5.1 7.1 .14 .10
Hematology Profile
Date WBC Hemoglobin Platelet Count Neutrophils
Reference Range 4.0 – 11.0 135 – 170 150 – 400 2.0 – 8.0
June 3.4 135 265 1.8
May 3.2 138 294 1.5
Apr 2.3 137 243 0.9
Mar 2.0 135 211 0.8
Feb 2.0 132 208 0.9
Jan 1.9 124 217 0.7
Nov 2.2 118 220 1.1

When I saw my specialist this week, I was in for an eye-opener. I found out that my Protein Electrophoresis values are very good. These markers are how people are identified as having Multiple Myeloma. There are 6 measures broken into two components (Albumin, the major component and Globulins, the minor components). The Globulins consist of Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta 1, Beta 2, and Gamma. When visible in a pattern, they make up 5 bands (Albumin, Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta, Gamma). The Serum Protein Immunoglobulins consist of IgG, IgA, and IgM.

As shown in the figures below from the 2005 Understanding and Interpreting Serum Protein Electrophoresis article, a normal pattern means that Multiple Myeloma isn’t detected in the blood stream.

Normal Pattern Figure 1: Typical normal pattern for serum protein electrophoresis

If they form an abnormal pattern, as shown by the large spike in the gamma region, then that is likely to indicate Multiple Myeloma.

Abnormal pattern Figure 2: Abnormal serum protein electrophoresis pattern in a patient with multiple myeloma.

If you look at the Serum Protein table above, you’ll note that my Beta 2 (4.0) and Gamma (6.6) are in the normal range. My Serum Protein Electrophoresis pattern for the 5 bands looks normal (as in Figure 1). In addition, my specialist noted that my Serum Protein Immunoglobulins values are all trending upward (re: improving) into the normal range, since I finished chemo last November. For example: igG (Nov) 7.1, (Jun) 9.9; igM (Nov) .10, (Jun) .30; igA (Nov) .14, (Jun) .33. The upward trend means that normal protein is being produced, when Multiple Myeloma is active in the blood stream, these values are suppressed.

My specialist observed that my overall health has also been improving, becoming more and more normal (see Hematology Profile table) – e.g. White Blood Cells (Nov) 2.2 (Jun) 4.0; Neutrophils (Nov) 1.1 (Jun) 1.8. I actually had the best response possible to my treatment and there is “no detectable myeloma in the blood stream”. I had to get those words repeated because I was under the impression that I had a partial remission, like in previous treatments. I’m going to make November 23rd the day I became cancer-free as I ended chemo the day before. Everything is sunshine and rainbows.

What this means is that I should keep doing what I’m doing. After 7 months to still be in remission absolutely rocks. I will continue to use my photography for health, healing, and happiness through self-portraits and personal projects that enhance my creativity. I know that photography is playing a large role in my happiness and helping keep my multiple myeloma from reappearing in my blood.

Life goal = Remain cancer-free.

Watching the sunsetWatching the sunset on Wreck Beach

Here are some recent photos.

Visualizing CommerceVisualizing Commerce

StevestonSteveston Harbour

River Rock Casino MarinaRiver Rock Casino Marina

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