Friday, May 28, 2010

Where I’ve been

From sometime in February until this week I didn’t update Bricolagia. Where have I been?

On December 28 I got a call from my doctor, who urged me to see a hematologist ASAP because a blood protein test indicated I might have multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells.
In January, my appointment with the hematologist had to be canceled because I got pneumonia. Multiple myeloma interferes with the making of the various components of the immune system.

Finally in February I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, stage 1. The treatment is chemotherapy until 90 – 95 % remission is achieved, followed by a stem cell transplant. I will get an autologous stem cell transplant, in which my own stem cells will be harvested and reintroduced after intensive chemotherapy to remove all (or most) of the remaining cancer.
Texas Oncology, the cancer treatment center providing the chemotherapy, doesn’t do stem cell transplants, so we opted to go to M. D. Anderson Center Treatment Center in Houston for the transplant. The doctors at Texas Oncology and M. D. Anderson were willing to work together, with M. D. Anderson in charge, so that meant I could get most of my early treatment in Austin.

I began chemo treatment on April 26 – 2 weeks on chemo and one week off, for 2—4 cycles, whatever it takes to get the disease under enough control that I can go on to the next stage. After the first cycle the proteins indicative of multiple myeloma have gone down dramatically and Dr. Kasper, the oncologist at Texas Oncology is pleased.

I am just finishing up with the chemo stage of the second cycle and the results aren’t in yet.

One of the drugs I’m getting is Revlmid, which is derived from Thalidomide, the drug that was given to pregnant women in the 60’s that caused birth defects. The FDA is paranoid about Revlimid and makes you sign your life away to get it. You have to promise you won’t have sex with a woman of childbearing age, or even let her touch the pills. And it’s very expensive, a problem for me since I don’t currently have any drug coverage.

You’ve heard about the various side effects of chemotherapy – they’re different for everyone, but they include constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, general aches and pains, fatigue, etc. I’ve had fairly constant constipation and occasional aches in my rib cage. I lack energy, but all in all it hasn’t been too bad.

You’ve heard how people who are in bad situations and the church is praying for them say they can tell people are praying for them. Well, I can attest to that. I have a huge prayer team – it overwhelms me how many are praying faithfully for me, and I can tell that they are.

I will keep you updated as things progress.

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