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Throughout July and the first part of August, Don was struggling with what we all thought was a nasty cold and cough that wouldn’t go away. He went into the clinic to be tested for Bronchitis, but chest X-rays showed his lungs were clear. On Wednesday, August 14th, he decided to go into the walk-in clinic again as he was very weak and had a fever. They did some blood work and quickly referred him to his primary care physician. Upon seeing his results, his doctor transferred him to Sanford Oncology at the downtown hospital. That afternoon the Hematology Oncologist began determining that Don had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which is a cancer of the bone marrow. In May, Don’s bloodwork was normal. On August 14th, his white blood cells were almost non-existent. AML is a fast growing cancer. On Thursday, a bone marrow biopsy was done to determine the level of the cancer and this past weekend those results determined the standard of care for Don.
The doctor was able to get Don accepted into a clinical trial for AML, and on Saturday they began treatments. There are 3 medications that Don will be given through his IV. The primary chemo drug will be administered 24 hrs/day for 7 days. In addition, he will receive two other medications to help draw the leukemia cells out of the bone marrow. To rid his body of the leukemia cells, the medications will also destroy Don’s good white blood cells, thereby stripping his immune system. Because of this, he will remain in the hospital throughout his treatments to monitor and reduce the chance of infection.
At the end of the initial treatment cycle, Don will remain in the hospital until the good white blood cells regenerate and his immune system is stronger. At this point, they will do another bone marrow biopsy to determine if the treatment put the disease into remission. If he is in remission, Don will be able to go home. After that, they will schedule 2-3 more chemo treatments (each one week long) to ensure all of the cancer cells are destroyed and he can stay in remission. While undergoing each chemo treatment, he will need to be in the hospital as his immune system will be compromised again. If all goes according to the plan, the treatments will take at least 4-6 months.
Don is able to have visitors that are healthy. His immune system is very compromised, so visitors must have no signs of a virus present. If you would like to visit, please contact Becky, Mark or Chuck in advance to see if Don is up to it. You can contact them via Facebook messenger, email or text. We are so very thankful for the prayers and support of Don’s family and friends. Don has a strong will and is ready to fight.