Having a break

Many apologies for not updating recently. There are good reasons for it. We became aware that my light chain levels had started to rise last year – in fact before my last blog. Apart from Bob I didn’t want to tell anyone as it could have been temporary and the kids were going through all sorts of changes like job changes, moves etc. As time went on the levels kept rising and it was obvious that Revlimid was no longer effective. We had lowered my steroid dose and tried putting it up again, but to no avail. So in (I think) August I came off Revlimid. It’s a bit difficult to know exactly why this relapse has happened, but I do have some suspicions that my bad chest infection last year plus the c.diff might have been a tipping point as the levels began rising shortly after. However, who knows – it might have happened anyway.

Anyway, I had to slowly reduce the steroid dose and am now off it. I had no idea how much that would affect me and the withdrawal symptoms are still with me. I have been told it can take months for your body to relearn to produce its own natural steroids. I also came off warfarin after a 6 week gap and last appointment have also ditched the aciclovir (prevents shingles) and fluconozole (prevents thrush). I am still taking me Adcal (Vit D and Calcium), and Gabapentin (helps with the peripheral neuropathy, though since coming off steroids it’s a bit worse). I’ve also swopped Ranitidine for Omeprazole, depsite my worries about it making me more vulnerable to C.diff, as I have terrible acid atm, despite being on fewer drugs.

At the moment I am having a break between treatments. My light chains continued to rise through to December though not too fast.  But Jan’s went back to September’s level. We were all a bit puzzled by that. But it is a mysterious disease!

My next treatment will be Velcade. I had put off telling the kids until I started on it, but as everything has dragged on I have told them now, and so can put it on my blog. I should have had Velcade before Revlimid – that’s how the funding stream usually works. But as it can cause peripheral neuropathy or make it worse I went on Revlimid instead. However, it has been discovered that having it delivered subcutaneously instead of intravenously reduces the possibility of PN, so I can try it now. Velcade is a nuisance in that you have to go to the hospital once or twice a week for two weeks and then have 10 days off. Revlimid was pills and a once a month appointment. But tbh there is no alternative. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I think you get an initial 4 rounds before there’s a decision about whether to continue.

If it doesn’t work then it is possible to try combinations of drugs, or I could be referred to the Royal Marsden which is a key myeloma treatment centre and where they do clinical trials. A key drug just passed by the FDA in the USA may be licensed over here in the next year or so as well and other drugs are coming on line too, so hopefully I can keep going on treatments for a while yet. Whether they would give me another stem cell transplant I don’t know, but I have one lot of stem cells left to use as well.

I probably won’t write again until I start Velcade as there won’t be much to report. Hope you all have a good year!