Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reduction But Not Remission

The "numbers" days are always nerve wracking. Results from the bone marrow biopsy done yesterday show the 90% plasma cells knocked down to 48%--a 50% drop. From talking with the nurses in the transplant unit, this response (50% reduction) is very good and about what they expect, so the Beam did its job. Our journey began with hopes of a double transplant and remission but we've hit a few bumps along the way, not the least of which was the spike in the plasma cells that the first 2 chemo regimes hardly touched. I am quite pleased that we've made some progress and am adjusting to the idea that this is going to be a longer treatment process in Arkansas than expected. (Our love affair with Little Rock will continue, I guess) That being said, given the need to recover from the "super beam" chemo, and transplant, we'll be returning to Denver sometime next week for a few weeks of recovery. After that we'll have a return visit to see Barlogie and decide on the course going forward and the need for continued treatment in Little Rock. That will depend on where my numbers are at that time and a variety of other variables I'm sure I'm unaware of. We do know that it's a long road back from a transplant. I don't know whether this transplant has been more rigorous or not, but it certainly has presented its challenges. and, as happened 4 years ago, I've lost all my hair, and dropped 35 pounds. So, don't freak out if you run into me.

Frankly I wasn't expecting to be "released" so soon. But my white count jumped in the last 2 days--we're now over 2! And other blood counts should start to stabilize. I'll be monitored at the clinic at home, with twice weekly shipments of blood to Arkansas for evaluation. I haven't fully processed what returning to life in Denver and still being tethered to Little Rock is going to be like. We will sort those things out as we move forward. I have many thoughts racing through my head at this hour but am mostly reminded that when first diagnosed I was told this was incurable but treatable. This latest treatment has taught us much, humbled us more, and made us more grateful for all of you for the never ending support during these past months. Do not underestimate how much your contact helped. I could not tell you how many times Susan and I said to one another, "what would we do without our family and friends."

Thank you.


Ingrid said...

Hi, dear Dan and Susan,

how strange this blog is:
the one you posted on the 26th April, did not show up here until right now, together with the one you posted on the 30th.
That just to let you know, that I too am checking in ALL the time.

And how wonderful to read, that the white cells are up to 2, that you might have the opportunity to go back to Denver for a little time.
Evidently progress is done.

And how sweet to read, that you and Susan feel the importance of the support of friendship, which I too told you always, is fundamental indeed.
Still, I for example here, feel so powerless to help you. For God's Sake, I'm not your only friend.

But even feeling so powerless, I love you so much, my thoughts are all the times with you both, and I'm still looking forward to welcoming you one day here in Siena to celebrate your remission, for which occasion we will open even a bottle of the finest Brunello, served with your beloved Lasagne made for you by me, putting in, together with the food ingredients only love.

sigun said...

dear Dan,

good news indeed: white cells up to 2% (when they were just 1% a few days ago) and cancer cells down 50% -- not bad at all. And you will be at Julia's graduation!! We will be with you all in exactly two weeks. Can't wait! Bises, Sigun.

Brett said...

Thanks for passing on this excellent news, Dan. It will be an intense transition, but at least you will be able to convalesce in the comfort of your own home. As is always the case, you can call on my 24 hours a day for anything you need. Safe travels.

Doug English said...

Hi Dan! thought we would check in on you this Sunday, May 3rd. So glad to see your treatments have made progress toward your ultimate recovery. So glad to hear you can return home to recoup. Remember that steak dinner still awaits you whenever you feel up to it. Take care Dan and know we think of you often! Doug & Tana

Nick said...

Dan -

This is wonderful news all around!! I was told a 50% reduction is what they look for as well, and given how pernicious your plasma cells seemed to be, that's a great start!

I'm delighted to hear about your counts recovering -- I know you and Susan were waiting forever on that.

Most importantly, I'm glad you'll be back in Denver for some "normal" time. I've found it immensely therapeutic! Stay on top of the nurses in LR because I'm still waiting for the stuff they said would be here for me to mail blood back, and filling thalidomide for bridging was also a challenge.

The best part of this is you'll be able to attend Julia's graduation, which is wonderful news!! I hope that a few weeks off will be revitalizing for you and allow you to recharge your batteries for the next phase of the battle, wherever that might be.

Your family is always is our thoughts, and we hope to see you soon, ready to knock out what's left of the Myeloma!


Nick and Jill

Rob said...


Glad to hear that you've had a 50% reduction! I hope you enjoy your sabbatical in Denver, that will be a great time to regain your energy.

Best Wishes,