Monday, December 19, 2005

Hmm, That's Interesting

Tonight I was going through my medical records looking for all the tests done on my back last January and February so I can take them to the neurologist tomorrow. (Wow, since the auto accident in August 2004, that file has gotten very large!) In that file cabinet were my retired military medical records. Before moving here to the Austin area, I had all my medical care at Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, TX.

If you remember, my local doctor had not done a complete blood count (CBC) since I moved here in January, 1996. Well, in those military records were a CBC from 1992 and another from 1995. In 1992, the white blood cells and the lymphocytes were well within the normal limits. In 1995, both the white blood cells and the lymphocyte cells were right on the very edge of high normal. Perhaps this was the beginning of the activation of the leukemia and I have had it for about ten years. I guess that would explain why it may be time for treatment, even with the "good prognostic indicators." If I have had it for ten years without treatment, that is a good long time. I will mention this to my hematologist/oncologist in January.

Well, I THINK I have decided against going with the Rituxan treatment. I have done a lot of research this weekend and have read many of the postings on ACOR from Dr. Terry Hamblin, for whom I have great respect. However, I still don't want to start with FCR first. Instead I am going to suggest going with Chlorambucil, also known as Leukeran®, as a first line treatment. Chlorambucil is an alkylating agent of the nitrogen mustard type.

The warning states: Chlorambucil can cause a decrease in the number of blood cells in your bone marrow. (Well, I would hope it does, I want to kill all those little cancer cells.) Your doctor will order tests before, during, and after your treatment to see if your blood cells are affected by this drug. (Good! Otherwise it would be a waste, wouldn't it?) Chlorambucil has been associated with the development of other types of cancers. (Umm, let's not even think about that! This is supposed to kill my cancer, not give birth to more.) Talk with your doctor about the potential risk of developing a new cancer. (OK, I will.) Chlorambucil may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. (I'm 60! Who cares? I don't.) However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant, or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. (I don't think so! Cheryl would have something to say about that!) Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should tell their doctors before they begin taking this drug. You should not plan to have children while receiving chemotherapy or for a while after treatments. (Believe me, I have no plans!) (Talk to your doctor for further details.) Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. (Again, no problem!) Chlorambucil may harm the fetus.

Side effects from Chlorambucil are common and include:
darkened and dry skin
loss of appetite or weight

Serious side effects have been reported with the use of Chlorambucil including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); decreased bone marrow function and blood problems (extreme fatigue; easy bruising or bleeding; black, bloody or tarry stools; fever or chills; or signs of infection such as fever; chills, or sore throat); seizures; skin rash; yellowing of the skin or eyes; persistent cough; nausea or vomiting; missed menstrual periods, or unusual lumps or masses.

Actually, these warnings are much less severe than the warnings on other treatments! And, if I am not mistaken, this is taken in pill form -- a real bonus. Well, for now, that is my decision for my treatment 'soup de jure.'

Tomorrow I am off to the Neurologist, but I can't remember why! Oh, yes, it is because of my worsening loss of memory and the pain and numbness in my legs. None of my doctors think the leg pain is due to the leukemia or lymphoma, but rather due to the back injury from my auto accident. I don't remember what they said about my memory. We shall see tomorrow. Another medical specialist notch for my belt.

By the way, thank you to all who left comments on my last post or emailed me that they were reading this blog. I truly appreciate each and every one of you! Thank you for your prayers. God Bless!


Stephen & Annnette Dunn said...

John: Just wanted you to know that we are keeping you and Cheryl and the family in our prayers. May God bless you in this joyous Christmas season. Keep the faith. God bless!

Jenny Lou said...

Hey John--I love reading your post. We are off to NYC for the holidays--strike and all. Better take my tennis shoes! I hope and pray everything goes well with you. Keep us all posted and Merry Christmas.
Jenny Lou Park
Austin TX

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