Sunday, December 14, 2008

Little Rock Bound?

We had our meeting on Friday with Dr. Barlogie. We went through the results of the multiple tests done during out last visit, the week before Thanksgiivng. No additional problem areas identified in the PET scan other than some gallstones. The bone marrow does not show heavy myeloma involvement (whatever that means). and the gene array has put me in the "low risk" category for the disease. My cancer levels are around 12% (compared to 68% when first diagnosed). I find the the labeling of this nastiness as "low risk" an oxymoron, but it refers to Barlogie's studies of treating people and how successful his treatment regime has been. Low risk brings a higher chance of remission. His recent studies show, when he is the initial treater, he gets 90% of his low risk patients into remission. 85% of those are in remission 4 years later. Becuase I have been previously treated I don't enjoy those same stats, but they are still good. So, what's the issue, you ask?

His treatment regime is rigorous, to say the least (brutal might be a more apt description). He proposes starting with 8 chemo drugs for a 3 week cycle, followed by further collection of my own stem cells, an auto transplant (my own cells), then a second auto transplant about 6 to 8 weeks later. This should take 3 to 4 months. Then 3 years of a 3 drug chemo regime as maintenance. He will require me to be in Little Rock for the 3 to 4 months of treatment, although suggested I might be able to go home a couple of times for a week or two.

We will see Rifkin, on Monday, to review the situation, although I am strongly leaning towards pursuing treatment with Barlogie. Of course, my greatest concern is my ability to handle this heavy chemo regime, but Susan will be by my side, keeping me going. We started looking at apartments this afternoon and will process that info over the weekend. If we decide to make the move, I expect we'll be moving to Little Rock in early January for a minimum of a 3 to 4 month stay. Many things to process, digest, and plan for in a short amount time---over the holidays, no less.

I struggle with how we will manage these months without the help of our many friends who have carried us through so many rough roads so far. But then we do have this blog, which Ted started before my last transplant in 2005, and we're already receiving offers of friends to come visit us, to help by giving Susan a break, and by just being there to support us. So, the journey continues. We love you all and continue to be full of gratitude for our many friends.

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