Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are starting this site to have accurate and consistent information delivered to anyone that is interested, not because of the severity of the situation. I, Arnie, was not able to donate blood the last couple of months because my iron (hemoglobin) was low, which should not occur in a male. When I mentioned this to my family doctor at my annual physical on October 31st, he ordered a complete blood panel to determine the reason for it. Based on the results of the CBC, he arranged an appointment with a Hematologist…Dr. Huber. As was being suspected by both doctors, further testing has verified CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. It appears, based on my numbers, enlarged spleen, and slightly swollen lymph nodes, that it is stage IV.
The numbers of most interest regarding my leukemia are as follows (normal ranges are in parentheses behind my counts):
RBC – Red Blood Count 4.33 (4.70-6.10)
HGB – Hemoglobin 11.8 (14-18)
WBC – White Blood Count 30.3 (4.5-11.0)
HCT -- 37.5% (40.0-54.0%)
RDW -- 15.4% (11.5-14.5%)
PLT – Platelets 91 (140-440)
DIFF Seg Neutrophil 11% (40-92%)
DIFF Lymphocyte 85% (5-50%)
Any other results are normal with a couple pending.
Myra and I met with Dr. Huber on Monday, November 6 and again on Thursday, November 9 when they drew 8 more vials of blood for further testing. I will also have a CT scan of my torso and neck area to study my lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. The biggest and most impactful unknown is the status of chromosome 17. If that is normal, beginning treatment is not as urgent, but still necessary, and treatment results are more optimistic. If 17 has parts deleted and not normal, then like the Dr. said, “you don’t want to mess around” and treatment would be more urgent.
There are 3 treatments that he explained and recommends. The “gold standard” that has kept blood counts corrected in patients for 7 – 10 years has, of course, the strongest side effects. It would be a 6 month treatment consisting of 3 days of outpatient IV therapy every 4 weeks, but then done after 6 months. The second recommendation is all oral pills and side effects are minimal enough to probably not disrupt normal life. The big drawback is that I would be on these the rest of my life, since it only keeps the leukemia in check. His third recommendation is a 6 month regimen similar to the first, but with not as strong of chemo therefore keeping it in check for more like 3-5 years.
As we start this journey in life, we know that the Lord is able to provide all the strength and courage to strive onward. We also know the importance of the prayers of those we love to carry us through these trying times. Our hope is that God and Jesus can be glorified in all ways.