January 28, 2010

My Report Card

         Going on a "Dog Walk" with Trent and Spencer. (I walk they run)

Last week I went to Huntsman for tests.  Labs, a PET/CT scan and a bone marrow biopsy.  I must be getting better at this.  It all seemed very routine.  I felt little anxiety and even the biopsy was easier. I guess this is a good thing since I will be having these, hopefully at much longer intervals, for the rest of my life.   On Tuesday we met with Dr. Tricot to go over all the results.  

     

My numbers are good. I pour over the lab reports trying to understand what each of the results mean.  This is a huge and overwhelming task for me in my "Chemo foggy" brain.  but I guess it is a good mental exercise.  I borrowed some of the analogy's from several other cancer blogs.  (I hope they don't mind.)

Here are a few of the lab test results compared to when I was diagnosed.  I was sure one “sick puppy” when I was diagnosed.  It is amazing looking back that I was as sick and tired as I was and thought it was just from being a busy wife and mother.

 When a person has myeloma they have an unusually high number of plasma cells in the bone marrow.  These are completely different then the white plasma cells in the blood.  Somewhere along the line one of these plasma cells turned to the "dark side" and begin multiplying itself over and over and never dying like a normal cell.  In most people there are 1% to 2% plasma cells in the marrow.  At diagnosis I had 80% plasma cells!!  I even have some lovely pictures taken from the first biopsy magnified 1000X.   They were crowding out other good cells which produce immunoglobulins or proteins to help fight infections.  Because I had evil cancer cells lurking in my marrow they sent out way too much protein into the blood and that was the first red flag.  Now for the good news.  I now have 1% plasma cells!

The next myeloma marker is the Beta 2 Microglobulin.  This shows how advanced the disease is. You want it to be less than 3. At diagnosis mine was 4.4.  It is now 2.8mg/l.

Your total protein is made up of several specific types.  The myeloma is classified by one of these.  I have IgG. The normal range is between 600 - 1500. At diagnosis my IgG was 9,286 mg/dl!!  It was 164 in Oct. but bounced up to 850 this time.  I panicked when I saw this but the Dr. explained that this is because I have been getting IVIG infusions every month to boost my immunities through the winter and that this is nothing to worry about. wheww.

Hemoglobin is an iron level is important because mm can cause sever anemia.  Normal levels are 12 to 15.5)  If it goes below 9 then I have to get a blood infusion.  I haven’t had one for months. It was 11.5 this last time.  

The PET/CT scan reported lots of different findings which I don’t understand however I do see lots of “normal” findings. Yea!  At diagnosis there were hundreds of lytic lesions throughout the skeleton.  They now report no focal lesions and no sites of tumor involvement.  I continue to receive 

Aredia infusions once a month to harden and strengthen the bones. They must be working. 

Have I lost you yet?  Those are a few of the test results that I quickly wrote down while visiting with the Dr.  I will be getting the lab report in the mail in a few days.  

So the good news is I am in Complete Remission.  There is no signs of active cancer. But we have chosen not to just treat this rare cancer but to aggressively work towards curing it and for that I am now on maintenance treatment of Velcade, Thalidomide, and Dexamethasone for a year.  I am half way through.  It is grueling.  I feel like Bozo the clown punching bag.  I am just starting to stand upright and then someone comes along and punches me back down.  It’s quite the life.  But it’s my life and I have much to live for and so much to be thankful for.  

   

I have an amazing husband and family.  I find so much joy just being around the love and energy of a household full of active, involved, good children.  I have faith in God that this mountain I am on is part of God’s plan for me.  That this mountain under me moves as I continue to climb and overcome the obstacles in my path with help from God and the support of my family and friends.  I am blessed!

January 14, 2010

Taking it One Day at a Time

Everyday is an adventure. Will this be a good day when I have some energy and can function as a wife and mother? Or will this be a day to go easy on myself and strive to endure until things improve? I am in my 6th cycle of Chemo. Velcade, Dex and Thalidomide. Half way if I can stand it. I have been trying to track a pattern as to what days I can expect to feel good. It seems to be somewhat erratic lately. My Doctor thinks it might be my bodies reaction as I come off the steroid the days following chemo. I am going to try a gradual let down and approach and see if that might prevent the big crashes and pain I have been dealing with. Cross your fingers. The crashes are not fun! My husband has to convince me that I can do this when I start thinking about just quitting the rest of treatment. He reminds me to take it one day at a time. Wow have I got a lot to learn.. but cancer is a very patient teacher and my perspectives of many things have changed and deepened. So I am continuing to trudge along. Looking forward to improved health and appreciating the good things and wonderful people in my life.

What I Needed Someone to Tell Me

  Painting "Hinds Feet" by Daniel F. Gerhartz Two women I know were diagnosed with cancer this week.  My heart goes out to them an...