Monday, August 28, 2006

Back to Watch & Wait!!!!!!!

Today was the day I saw my oncologist/hematologist. I had tried to get a copy of my bone marrow biopsy before the appointment and it wasn't available. So, I was quit anxious going in. He asked me if I was still working or if I was going back to work. Remember, he had wanted me to take off six months for chemo treatment. I told him he knew I was working and I was the one with chemo brain, what was his excuse? He said it was from working all day long with people who had chemo brain. Seems it must be catching. A funny start.

Then he sat down and said the bone marrow biopsy showed the marrow was still 50% involved with those little nasties. My heart sank as I knew if it was not below 30% it meant more chemo. However he really surprised me and said he didn't want to do more chemo now and after eight rounds, my body needed a rest. He asked me if I was OK with that. Well, as the kids say, "no, duh!" Of course I was OK with that. He said we will wait and test the blood in three months and take it from there. He did ask if I would follow his advice next time. He said that yes, the FCR was much harder, but he would expect much better results from it. Since my marrow didn't clear like I wanted and I still have the lymph nodes everywhere but my neck, I guess I will probably go along this time. He said we might get six months out of the treatment we just finished. So when I go back in November does not mean that is when we will do more chemo. It will all depend on the blood tests. I asked him about the Campath mop-up right now, suggested by the doctor at MD Anderson. He said he really didn't want to do that and I needed recovery time. Fine by me. He did say that if I was in my 70's, we would just keep repeating the chemo I just finished with. Knock it down for six months and then repeat. However, because I am still relatively young, we need to go stronger and get a longer response. Perhaps several years before having to repeat. Of course I have written about the downside of doing that, as has Dr. Hamblin on his blog. Even Dr. Hamblin is not totally opposed to FCR and he knows it does have its place.

So, I get a break for awhile. This will be the longest period between blood tests since my diagnosis. I am sure I will get anxious as the date approaches. I will get the next blood drawn on November 22 and see him again on November 27th. In the meantime, my inner chinese hamster is getting a break. However, I am putting her on a weight training program so when we do chemo again she is ready to really kick cancer's butt!!!!

My platelets made a big jump to 138! I am still somewhat anemic and, ironically, my iron levels are a little high. Everything else that was out of whack was only slightly above or below normal. What I really want now is to get my energy back. I am tired of feeling tired all the time.

Here is what it says in summary on the bone marrow biopsy report (it is five pages long):
Residual CLL/SLL involving 50% of marrow cellularity, nodular and interstitial pattern.
Normocellular (30-35%) trilineage bone marrow with mild mmegakaryocyte
Mildly increased iron stores

If anyone wants any of the technical details, just email me. I also posted many of the details on the CLL Forum.

So, to all you prayer warriors out there. Thank you so very much. This treatment intermission is truly and answer to prayer.


Jenny Lou said...

You know how happy I am for you. 3 months of not having CBC's, Catscans and infusions is a wonderful break that hopefully will turn into 3 more months. I think you know how I feel about FCR. Just do it. You will get more then just months of remission out of it. It's not as bad as your mind thinks. You have already struggled this year with all the treatment--no worse with FCR--just different.
Congrats---that hamster is starting to look healthy!

Deb said...

Good going John! Three months break is great.Now get out there and enjoy life in the Texas sun (Or maybe up north somewhere).
I love your Cheesie lifting weights.Get Buff,LOL!
God Bless you and your family,

Karen said...

Hee hee! I love the hamster photo! :)