Dave has hada rather rare blood disorder for the past five years. We have loving referred to it as 'an old guy blood disorder'. However, when he had a bi-yearly blood test at the end of June, all the numbers drastically dropped (red count, white count, platelets etc.). He has been retested every two weeks since mid-July and the numbers have continued to go lower. We chose to go to the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. After a record review, the diagnosis was reconfirmed that he suffers from CMML, chronic myelmonocytic leukemia, a rare blood cancer that effects only one in 100,000 to 200,000 thousand people a year in the U.S., mostly men. The doctor he saw, Aref Al-Kali, sees other patients with this blood disorder and he recommended that Dave start chemo therapy. Chemo will be administered through infusion for three days in a row with the following three weeks off, for four months. He then will have another bone marrow biopsy to see if the drugs have improved his blood disorder. Side effects are fatigue and lowering blood counts, especially his white blood count which heightens his chance of infection. If you want to learn more about CMML, the Mayo Clinic website has and informative, comprehensive description.
Dave had his first chemo infusion this morning. Because his red count was low, he also had a blood transfusion. It was a long day. Knowing little about the length of time it takes to administer chemo or a blood transfusion, we learned it takes a whole lot longer than we thought. However, his doctor, Dr. Raflores, and all the nurses we encountered were professional, friendly and kind. After walking through the door at the hospital this morning feeling like we were crossing the Rubicon, we left at five this afternoon assured that we could handle this leg of the journey. Whew.