Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We created it originally to keep friends and family updated about Danny, as he recovered from a stem cell transplant he received in early spring, 2011, at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. This week he will undergo a second transplant, so we are reviving this site to give us a place to share events, thoughts and feelings. Feel free to contribute to our guestbook.
Thanks - Danny & Lisa, Sarah & Wade
History: Danny received a stem cell transplant in January 2011 at the UCSF Medical Center (in San Francisco.) In case you don't know the specifics, here they are:
Danny has had abnormal blood counts for the past five years or so, with no diagnosable cause. In August, 2010, things started looking more suspicious so he underwent a bone biopsy. Being a multi-tasker, this took place while on a working vacation with his family in northern California. The results indicated he has multiple myeloma, a not-very-nice form of bone cancer. The good side was that he had (and has) very few symptoms, and remains a very healthy guy...except for the myeloma.
Back in Cocoa Beach, Danny began a fairly new, three-drug induction treatment for the disease: Revlimid, Velcade and Dexamethasone. It wasn't fun, but it was very effective in beating back the cancer cells (his M-spike, a specific cancer marker for the disease, dropped 96% from 2.7 in August to 0.1 in December 2010) and he was able to work throughout the treatment. He receives treatment locally from Dr. Solomon Zimm, while Dr. Jeff Wolf (a myeloma expert) is directing the overall course of his treatment from San Francisco.
By the start of 2011, he had finished five rounds of the chemotherapy, retaining all hair and other body parts; in December he also traveled to CA to "harvest" his own stem cells for later use. On January 18th, he returned to UCSF's Myeloma Program for the transplant procedure. Briefly, this consists of killing his bone marrow cells (the good and bad) with high-dose chemotherapy, and then regrowing them from his reintroduced stem cells. There's nothing surgical involved, but it wasn't much fun. He lost his beard and all hair (except those wild eyebrows), dealt with several weeks of nausea, and his immune system was very, very weak. He stayed at UCSF Medical Center for about 3 weeks, and then gratefully moved to his sister Sharon's house in the area for another month of steady recuperation. Although his immune system was returning, he had to avoid casual contact with people, especially little children.
When his immune system was deemed worthy, I (his wife, Lisa) flew out to escort him home. We were hoping to hitch a ride on a corporate jet (via a fabulous organization, Corporate Angel) to avoid the germ exposure of a commercial flight. But none were available, so we sprang for the relative privacy of 1st class. We made it back to Cocoa Beach, germ-free.
The big idea behind all these treatments is to greatly reduce the cancer cells, putting the disease into remission for an unknown period of time. At this point, there is no sure answer, but the modes of treatment are expanding quickly, and some great minds are hard at work to find a cure. Anyone who's been with Danny during his on-going treatment knows that he has maintained (largely!) a pretty positive attitude, and has worked hard to improve his overall health to withstand the treatments. He has also learned an amazing amount about myeloma in a short period of time, which has helped his friends and family to understand what is going on.
I am updating this story almost 2 years after Dan's transplant. The news remains good -- he remains in complete remission for the time being, and we'll take it. He's back to work (on multiple jobs), but is continuing to take it a little easier than normal. He's withstood a cold and pneumonia contracted on a business trips, and realizes that his immune system is not what it once was; he is also continuing to take a maintenance drug, Revlimid, and augments all of this with diet and supplements. He returns to San Francisco periodically for family, vacation and to check in with his doctor there. Life goes on!