Friday, February 19, 2010

Great news!

On our Friday date day, while we were sitting at the movies (I highly recommend Crazy Heart with Jeff Bridges), my phone rang. I went to the lobby and spoke with Nurse K. who gave a wonderful report. My M-spike number is now 0.55, down from 3.16! Normally, it is zero, so it is certainly trending in the right direction and, if my estimation is correct, pretty quickly. It sure seems like, since Sheriff Fludarabine hit town, that the lymphoma gang is leaving.

Last October, the IgM reading was an alarming 5120 versus a normal range of 60-263. In December, the level had improved to 1520. Today's report is another great improvement to 532. That's still a high number, but shows tremendous improvement!

My hemoglobin is plateaued at 12.9, but is just a tick outside the normal range of 13-17.

Needless to say, we are very happy and very encouraged by these steady improvements that trend towards normal. It seems like an early remission is a real possibility. As my friend N said, in encouragement, "Wait a minute, I think we can lick this thing!"

Thanks for sending me your encouragement, crossing your fingers and toes and for sending your prayers heavenward. It's working!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Calling Nurse K....

Last Monday, I had my mid-month blood tests, including the very informative M-spike reading. Because Dr. Hema's office is 45 minutes away, my local doctor's office, about seven minutes away, does the test and faxes the result to Dr. Hema. After evaluation, I am telephoned with the result.

As you may recall, a patient in remission should have an M-spike reading of zero. Several months ago, mine was 2.0 and after the rituxan treatments, it actually rose to 3.16. Of course, I am anxious to see what effect the fludarabine treatment is having. We all hope that the tide has turned and the numbers are trending back down towards zero.

I am realistic enough to realize that it is unlikely that I will take a treatment and suddenly be completely cured; cue the rainbow and break out the champagne. I believe every cancer patient, including me, has ups and downs. While I hope for the best and greatest test results ever known in all of medical history, I fully realize that sometimes the news will be good and sometimes it will be less good.

I am on the edge of my chair waiting for the telephone to ring and hear some hopefully good news from Nurse K.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Three of four of six

I completed the third of four treatments comprising the fourth of six rounds.

Sounds complicated, doesn't it? I get confused myself. I guess I'll just go on going until Dr. Hema says, "Stop! You're in remission! Go home, already!!!"

The treatments go well enough. They are painless and, thank heavens, have only trivial side effects. P the Piercer and I have it down to a slick routine so that the whole process takes less time than the commute. I have lately been sleeping through most of it.

So, how would you like to sleep with this thing in your arm a few nights a week? Nurse P asked if this was a good place, on the inside of my forearm, and I told her that if the Doc said I had achieved remission, that I'd think it was a great, fabulous, wonderful place!

Treatment continues rather uneventfully.

Monday, February 1, 2010

If it's the first of the month, it's time for chemo!

We were back to Big City today to start the next five day round of chemo. There was a pretty bad snow and ice storm over the weekend here (well, bad for South Carolina) and so we left home early and with some trepidation. By the time it was time to leave, the temperature had risen to 40 degrees and so the roads were wet and not icy. So many schools and other facilities were closed that traffic was rather light and, despite our trepidations, we made it to Dr. Hema's pierce-atorium in record time!

As usual, blood tests are taken first and are evaluated in the lab right in Dr. Hema's facility. Dr. Hema came in the examining room with the results and told us he was very impressed and very happy with the result. He also said he felt it is appropriate to fine-tune the dose. He suggested that, rather than administer less fludarabine each treatment day, that it would serve the same purpose, and be easier on me, to simply administer for fewer days! We agreed that the treatments would be given Monday through Thursday only.

That suits me, since Friday has been play day for my adorable wife and me for many years. We enjoy a big breakfast out and scan the movie schedule for the latest release. Then pizza and a glass of wine for dinner and we feel like we've had a nice all-day date!

My progress continues to suggest tremendous improvement in my health. My energy and sense of general well-being support this completely. I continue to be very encouraged and hopeful.

Thank you all for your comments and emails. I feel great knowing you are all hoping and praying for me!