Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sorry We've Been Away

Sorry we've been out of pocket everyone. It's not that we don't enjoy the virtual company or that we have anything better to do, just that our internet connection was much more problematic than it was last time we were in Houston. Tonight I think I got the Comcast modem to behave so we should be able to post more frequently from now on.

Enough of that though, you have surfed over to check on us and see how things are going. So without further ado, I'm can say things haven't gotten worse and may have gotten better. I know that's not exactly ringing news. I guess the best way to characterize what is going on is that there seems to have been some progress, but it's hard to quantify it. You'll understand after I explain.

Thursday was a big day at clinic for us, as Ann was to get her 1st bone marrow biopsy post re-induction. The nature of the findings from the BMB are pretty critical to figuring out if the new chemo is working or not. So we set off early in the morning for blood work, labs, the BMB, more labs, lab reviews, a meeting with the Stem Cell Business Office, and finally a meeting with Dr. Thomas.

The results of the first labs and blood work are pretty pointless to go over right now. Not because I don't want to share with you, but because they are all mostly zero, zip, nada. This new chemo has pretty much destroyed all of Ann's cell counts, and her chemistry is also starting to get messed up too. So the minutia of the exact cell counts are beside the point at this moment.

What is of much more importance is the results of the BMB. We sort of found those out during our meeting with Dr. Thomas. I say sort of because I didn't get a copy of the actual counts from Ann's marrow and Deborah wasn't offering them to me anyway. However, she did describe Ann's marrow as "empty" which she noted was exactly what she wanted to see at this point.

"OK. So no blasts, no worries?" I asked.

"No Blasts. No Worries." She replied back to me with a snarky grin (I can't wait until her centrifugal pump or turbine breaks and needs an Engineer to fix it). She went on to point out that the gene studies are still pending from Ann's marrow. But because there wasn't anything in it but fat cells she really didn't think anything would turn up.

Does that mean Ann is in remission yet? No. Probable maybe. The soonest that be determined is apparently late next week, after the results of one more BMB is done. I can't wait. Each time Ann has one of those I feel like I'm gonna have a heart attack while waiting for the results.

As an aside Ann asked Dr. Thomas about some of the new chemo drugs she is getting this time around as we had done some research and found out a few are front-line therapy in France. We thought it was "interesting" and demonstrated we were engaged in understanding our treatment, but didn't expect the response we got. First Ann's mention actually left her Doc speechless, and for a moment you could see gears turning as she considered how to respond. Finally gave us a more detailed run down on the uses other centers are using for things like l-asparaginase (Ann's current favorite), then she outlined its role at MDA. Turns out that the protocol Ann is enduring right now is part of a brad new treatment for relapsed blood cancer that MDA has just started putting together. There seems to be a problem with keeping adult patients on it because it is very rough. I guess I would theorize that it is probably as intense as the pediatric chemo protocols are judging from our observations and Ann's first hand experience.

Dr. Thomas went on to say that she is very impressed with how well Ann is taking the chemo. The implication was that I think she was expecting to ave to slow down at this point, and was pleased at the results and that she didn't have to delay upcoming treatment for Ann to recover. I think Ann has a stamp on her somewhere that says "Actung Panzer"! I'm constantly amazed at the punishment she endures and how fast she bounces back or shrugs it off.

Next week is a big week. Ann is getting fast tracked back to BMT and I think MDA has already informed the inusrance company that they want to start a new donor search. In addition to the BMB late next week, we are meeting with Dr. Kebrieai again and starting pre-transplant testing (echo, spirometry, etc). That's a good sign because those tests are done to assure the insurance company that Ann is a good risk for a second transplant and to let the doctors know if her major organs are strong enough to make it through. More over it is a strong indicator that the invisible conveyor belt we are on is moving in the right direction.

I'm really hoping that next week brings really good news because I have come to hate this beard I'm growing. It's itchy, scratchy and driving me crazy. I'm really looking forward to shaving this thing off.

BTW I meet a real honest to goodness Astronaut today from the Atlantis STS- 122 mission. One hell of a nice guy. I'd share the details with you but I'm wiped out and need to try to sleep.

Thanks for keeping up with us.


pj said...

Chris, I think empty bone marrow is good news and you should lose the beard. Thanks for the long post. Talk to you tomorrow.

Ms. Open Mouth, Insert Fork said...

All in all, this sounds like a good report. You're right that Ann can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. I don't know how she does it.

I like your image of the "invisible conveyor belt moving in the right direction." That's the image I'll keep in my mind. (Although it may feel at times like George Jetson and Astro on the treadmill.)

Anonymous said...

If you need a chaperone to escort you to France, look no further!