(Sunset over Manhattan Beach Pier – 7/3/2018)
Results from last week’s bone marrow biopsy are encouraging. In technical terms, it found negative minimum residual disease (MRD). That means the test could find no leukemia cells floating around…. even with very sensitive state of the art measurement instruments. This is clearly good news, it means that my disease is responding to treatment, which is huge. But it doesn’t mean I’m cured or that treatment can stop. In fact, I’m heading back Cedars today for 5 days or so of round 2 of Hyper CVAD chemo…. which is the same chemo cocktail I’ve been getting.
Despite this very positive result, the treatment path remains a bit murky. Path one is to continue receiving chemo for about 6 months. This is considered the low risk/low reward option. Odds of achieving a cure are about 20%. And there is no way of knowing if I’m cured. Just have to live my life and hope that I don’t relapse. Path 2 is to move forward with a transplant from a donor. This is considered the high risk/high reward option. If all goes well, it will result in a cure. However, there is also the possibility that it won’t work and I will relapse and separately the possibility that I will contract Graft vs. Host disease, an auto immune response which is essentially my body rejecting the foreign cells. It could affect my quality of life. The impact could be as minor as some dry eye discomfort or as major as a lupus like response that I would have to live with. There is also a 3rd path…. a clinical trial involving weaponized T-cells from a donor that have been programmed to destroy my specific cancer cells. It is very experimental.
The plan is to get consults from my medical team and make a decision. Don’t need to make a decision right away. Meanwhile, the search is on for a suitable donor in the event we do chose the transplant option. It usually takes about 3 months to complete this process.
So, lots to think about. Meanwhile, I’m feeling pretty good today. Had a lovely 4th of July BBQ at home. Got to admit, I’m a bit down about having to go back to the hospital today, but its only for few days so I’ll tough it out.
One other quick note….I contracted an infection last week and it was pretty hairy. I happened to be at Cedars for the bone marrow biopsy. But I spiked a 105 fever right after the procedure. I honestly don’t remember anything that happened that day…I was out cold. But Susan was there and I was a mess. I was admitted to the hospital and spent two days of hell there fighting the infection. I was alternatively shivering convulsively and sweating profusely. In the end, it turns out that the PICC line inserted in my arm had gotten infected and caused the infection. They removed the PICC line, administered antibiotics and by the end of day two, my fever broke and I was fine and I went home on day 3.
Thanks again to all who have called, messaged, texted, visited and otherwise lent support. It means so much and I appreciate it more than can be expressed.
A final note. My doctor said he is very encouraged by the Bone Marrow Biopsy result and is optimistic. And so am I.