So here we are, in a most unexpected place. After weeks of enjoying and celebrating the holidays with friends and family, Doreen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, B Cell Type. The cancer was discovered through a routine 3-month blood test ordered by her rheumatologist that showed a Platelet count of 132,000 on 12/7/19 (A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000). After follow up bloodwork showed a further decline in platelets, she was admitted to Danbury Hospital on 12/28/19 for additional testing and to determine the best course of action to fight this disease.
Doreen’s Oncologist / Hematologist, Dr. Shaynne Hall has been amazing ordering tests, analyzing results, coming up with a chemotherapy regimen and communicating with Doreen and Ed. Doreen has had CT Scans, Bone Scans, Bone Marrow biopsies (ouch!), EKG’s, Genetic Testing, Ultrasounds, blood work, blood work, blood work and ENDLESS Platelet Infusions … the testing and prep don’t end. The team at Danbury works 24/7 and we are grateful for how quickly and efficiently everything has been handled.
A normal platelet count ranges from 150,000 to 450,000, however, even with 3 or more Platelet transfusions per day, Doreen’s Platelet count has decreased to and remains dangerously below 10,000. She is currently “restricted” from visitors, isn't allowed any fresh fruits and vegetables and CAN'T BE AROUND FRESH FLOWERS! The next step is to get started on her Chemotherapy regimen so she can turn those numbers around!
Doreen’s Chemotherapy protocol is referred to as Hyper-CVAD A&B - Chemotherapy will be administered over the course of about 8 months. The first 5 days of each 21-day cycle will be in-patient, with the remaining 13 days being outpatient (with a few full days on site at the hospital during that time). She will be receiving chemotherapy through a picc line in her arm and also to her central nervous system through injections in her lumbar spine.
Obviously Chemotherapy will suppress her immune system and great care will be needed to limit her exposure to harmful microbes and bacteria both in and outside the hospital. No Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, No Fresh Flowers, No Plants.... Doreen will need to be on a Neutropenic Diet during this time, which involves choosing foods and preparing them in a way that lowers the risk of foodborne illness. MSKCC has a great write up on what the following Neutropenic Diet requires (if you’re an information junkie like Doreen and me)…. https://www.mskcc.org/experience/patient-support/nutrition-cancer/diet-plans-cancer/neutropenic-diet
DOREEN’S FIRST CHEMOTHERAPY TREATMENT WAS TODAY 1/6/20!
Since this is her first ‘round’, the Drs. Have indicated she will remain in patient for at least the first 11 days of treatment putting us at 1/17 for a projected trip home and respite from being in the hospital.
This is going to be a long journey and Doreen, Ed, Kate and Dylan (4th year medical student… that’s coming in handy!) are so grateful for your support and caring during this time.
Sharing information on her diagnosis and progress was becoming overwhelming so we are hoping to be able to keep you all updated through this Caring Bridge site.
We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.