Monday, September 30, 2013

Six Month Results

It has definitely been awhile since I've posted anything, apologies for that.  Truth be told, things were getting back to normal.  I started working, we'd been busy with weekend plans, Tom was entertaining a return to work, you get the picture.

Last Friday Tom had his six month post-transplant bone marrow biopsy- standard procedure for this time frame.  The biopsy would give us a glimpse at his percentage of donor cells and the outlook on his future of recovery. Today we got those results.

Following an uncomfortable silence and us both trying to control our anxiety, the doctor came in and proceeded with general small talk.  Asking us about the weekend, the reptile show that we went to, checking out Tom's back (he's been having some incredibly painful nerve problems the past four days, which consisted of a trip to the ER to waste four hours on Saturday), he continued on and then finally it was time to get down to business.

He said that Tom is at 99.08% of the donor's cells which for at this point in time is good even though that's a little lower than last time but he says it's still good. Then he told us that the bone marrow yielded some early leukemia cells. He said that because of the proteins on the cells he was able to discern that they were leukemia cells and that a lot of times those proteins aren't there and get mistaken for normal young cells, so I suppose at least it was caught early.  Dr. Carroll mentioned that it was less than 1% leukemia cells at this point and said he feels confident that it can be taken care of.

The Plan:

The plan is to take Tom off of his graft vs. host medicine and hope that his immune system (as the medicine suppresses the immune system) will act up and with a little graft vs. host, attack the remainder of leukemia cells. They will keep a close eye on Tom to make sure that the graft vs. host doesn't get out of hand and shut things down.  The doctor feels that while it may not be ideal, it may just be necessary to get this under control.  In about a month they'll do another biopsy to see where he stands and if it hasn't done the trick, it's more chemo and possibly more donor cells.

Tom as given a medication to help with the nerve spasms that he's having.  Both that medicine and the stopping of this graft vs. host meds shouldn't be noticeable for possibly a week.  He goes in again next week on Monday as well.

While this obviously is not the news we were hoping to hear, I guess it's the hand we're dealt.  On Sunday I went to the bone marrow transplant survivor picnic and saw people from the 90's stand up and give testaments to their treatment, saw Dr. Carroll's first Sacramento patient, and many others who all talked about the hard battles they've fought... some of them two and three time transplantees.  It was so inspiring to see the faith they've put in the doctor's and specifically in Dr. Carroll.  So here's to hoping for the best and trying not to feel back at square one.