Doug was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) on February 10, 2011, 2 days before his 52nd Birthday. He had been feeling ill since November of 2010 and had gone to his primary doctor a couple of times. Initially he was diagnosed with walking pneumonia, twice. He continued to be sick and when he was finally diagnosed he was at 95% blasts. (Cancer cells) He went from the emergency room immediately to an inpatient hospitalization for seven days of chemo. That was to be followed by outpatient chemo therapy for an additional six months of treatment. However, he was unable to complete the treatment due to issues with blood pressure and passing out. Thus, the treatment was stopped.
On January 20 2012 Doug relapsed. He was immediately put on the stem cell transplant donor list, and the search began. In May we were told that Doug had been matched with a donor in Germany and he was admitted for 100 days of inpatient care.
Since his release in August of 2012 Doug has been diagnosed with chronic graft versus host disease cGVHD (Considered a “rare” disease where the donor’s system is trying to kill the recipients organs as it recognizes them as “foreign”. ) Immune suppressant drugs and photophoresis ( like dialysis, his blood is run through a machine every 2 weeks to kill the donors aggressive T cells) are given to him to keep the donor system in check.
However, immune suppressants do just that, leaving Doug open to every germ out there. The trick is balance, which is very difficult to maintain. He has had many hospitalizations since his original SCT in May of 2012, primarily for pneumonia. As a result, his lung capacity has diminished and he is on oxygen 24 seven since August 2018.