Oct 19, 2018 Latest post:
Oct 27, 2018
Hello and thank you for visiting my CaringBridge webpage. Most of you know my story, but I will retell it here for those who do not. In April, I was diagnosed with myeloma, also known as multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow and is cancer of the plasma cells. Myeloma is the second most common blood cancer, and although it is considered incurable, it is very much a treatable disease thanks to recent advancements in cancer research - we were told it has the steepest advancement curve of any cancer over the past 5-10 years.
I began treatment in early May at the Lancaster General Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute. My initial treatment consisted of drug therapy using two drugs, one of which was a pill taken at home and the other of which was a periodic infusion at the Cancer Institute. I had minimal side effects from these drugs and maintained a normal life while on them. I responded extremely well to the drug therapy and by mid-July was deemed to be in complete remission from the cancer, meaning that all my blood numbers had returned to normal range.
The next phase of treatment is a stem cell transplant at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP), part of the Penn Medicine health system and an affiliate of Lancaster General, in Philadelphia. The goal of the transplant is to achieve a long term (multi-year) remission without the need for ongoing drug therapy other than a low dose maintenance drug. The transplant involves harvesting healthy stem cells from my own bloodstream, which was completed the week of October 8, killing the remaining stem cells in my bone marrow with chemotherapy on Wednesday, October 17, and infusing the harvested stem cells back into my bloodstream on Friday, October 19. The transplanted stem cells restore the bone marrow’s ability to produce healthy cells. I will remain at HUP as an inpatient for 2-3 weeks while my blood counts and immune system recover. I then will recover at home, which will take several months before I am back to full strength. Based on my response to treatments and procedures so far, my doctors are very optimistic about the transplant and my long-term prognosis.
The few months will be a challenging time for our family, but we are confident we will get through it with the help of family and friends. John and I are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support we have received from them since my diagnosis, and for their prayers. We believe that the prayers in particular have been responsible for my positive outcomes so far.
We will use this webpage to post updates on my progress starting around October 18-19, so feel free to check back periodically.
Thank you to everyone who has been and will be by our sides during this journey. We appreciate it more than we could ever say.