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Mar 9, 2018
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Bill's journey began in early 2016 with a cold sore on his lip that just wouldn't go away with OTC ointments; so after several weeks, off to the clinic we went. We quickly discovered that his blood cell counts - reds, whites, and platelets - were all extremely low; below the lower end of the "normal" range. Based on this condition, he was referred to the oncology/hematology department at the clinic, and we came to be under the care of Dr. "E". Her last name is a bit difficult to pronounce, so she goes by Dr. E. Our clinic in Maple Grove is a suburban satelite clinic for the University of Minnesota Health System.
A battery of tests and exploratory procedures over the next several months yielded absolutely no answer to why. Why were his cell counts so low? Then Bill underwent his very first bone marrow biopsy, at the clinic. The results showed no leukemia, no lymphoma, no cancer at all. Dr. E told us that "Patient Bill" was consistently at the top of the list for doctor-to-doctor discussion meetings. He had all the pathologists, hematologists, oncologists, stumped.
For those of you who know Bill, you know that he's a fighter, a fierce competitor. But he's also a pragmatist, and when the answers still wouldn't come after over a year, he said he was done with the whole project. This wasn't exactly good news to me, but I had to respect his wishes. But after some time went by and he was still feeling tired, or worse, fatigued; I finally convinced him to at least resume the monthly blood tests. He agreed.
The tests from last fall (Fall of 2017) through January continued to show basically the same trend we had seen all along. But the blood test in early February 2018 was markedly different. The pathologist discovered Blasts.
Bill was admitted to the U of M Medical Center in Minneapolis on February 13th. On February 14th he had the bone marrow biopsy which would identify what it was we are dealing with. On Friday, February 16th he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
An access port was inserted in his chest, and the medical team commenced the "7+3" Induction Chemotherapy. This involved 24/7 infusion of one chemo drug for 7 days; on days 1, 2, and 3 he received a second chemo drug infusion for about a half-hour each day. Together, this chemo cocktail carried with it the hopes and fears of Bill, his family, and his friends.