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Some of you already know that he has been diagnosed with a form of Leukemia called MyelodySPLAstic Syndrome, a cancerous condition that prevents his white blood cells and platelets from maintaining healthy numbers. Anemia (low red lood cell count) is also a factor. Two rounds of booster injections have failed to impact his counts in any significant, long term way. His cancer blood doc recommended a more aggressive treatment program: chemotherapy with a drug called Vidaza (vie-DAZE-a) for five consecutive days followed by three weeks off, in sequence for four to six months. In addition,. Dr. Mohammed Mohammed (yes, that’s his name) explained that the survival rate for Myelodysplastic Syndrome patients is: 50% live 1.2 years; the other 50% may live longer, or may live for a shorter time period. Very sobering news. David chose chemotherapy, which could potentially boost his blood cells (after this 4-6 month period of even lower blood cell counts) putting him in remission, or in a manageable blood cell count situation. He is now embarking on a period of being highly susceptible to infection of any kind. So he does wear his mask, religiously. When cell counts fall below a certain level, David could receive blood transfusions. Dr. Mohammed informed us that Vidaza very likely would not cause serious side effects, such as loss of hair, nausea, vomiting, intestinal tract difficulties – but fatigue, loss of appetite may well be challenges.
We have attended a ‘Chemo Class’, which was immensely informative; (read: overwhelmingly informative), that offered all sorts of guidance in social behavior choices, nutrition, hygiene, medical and legal directives and more. I am still reading…..
Today, Friday, January 13, at Greensboro’s Cone Health Cancer Center, David will receive his 5th infusion of Vidasa, in the first of 6 cycles, along with an anti-nausea drug (Zofran) over the course of two hours. The plan is for these infusions to occur Monday-Friday, the first week of each month through June. A port-a-cath will be surgically inserted on Monday, January 23, so that needle insertion/extraction for both lab work and infusion administration is far less painful (arm hairs are fast disappearing...). So far, I can attest to the fact that David is being extremely well cared for at Cone. Every single nurse, aide, volunteer, doctor, physician’s assistant, social worker we’ve met thus far has been absolutely helpful and accessible, with two significant language barrier challenges – Dr. Mohammed and his assistant, both of whom have heavy foreign accents, so I’m glad to be on hand, when I can. David’s hearing continues to plague his clear understanding of what’s being said to him.
We are beginning to address various directives, including a Health Care Power of Attorney (done), a Living Will (done), a legal Power of Attorney and a Will (up next). All this is quite familiar to me, having recently orchestrated my mother’s recent end-of-life legal and medical needs.
David’s spirits are up and down, with occasional fatalistic quips. Energy was no problem during our recent snow storm – in single digit temperatures, he snow-blew and shoveled us out after 7” of snowfall. :-)
His email address: email@example.com; his cell phone # 336 202 7023. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, thank you!