Welcome to our CaringBridge website. This is Thérèse writing on behalf of Jim--we are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. Most of you have heard that my beloved Jim received a now refined diagnosis of T-Cell Lymphocytic Leukemia (T-PLL) in late February. It is a rare, incurable cancer. Initially, we hoped it would stay indolent for some (many?) months before treatment would be needed. That was not to be. The cancer turned aggressive in just a few weeks and once it turned, it came on with a vengeance. On Wednesday afternoon, the doctor called to say Jim's blood count numbers were alarming and urged us to come back to the Mayo Clinic to start treatment immediately. She said waiting even a week was too long. We proceeded to pack up our Airbnb in a flurry, with the help of our friends Ron and Nancy Ankeny, and drove back to Rochester that night.
After passing a COVID test, Jim was admitted to the Mayo Hospital yesterday and had his first infusion of the cancer drug last night. Because T-PLL is so rare (Mayo sees only 1 or 2 people with this DX a year), there is only one drug that can be used to treat him ("campath"). It induces an "artificial HIV" condition of little to no immunity and therefore the risk of getting a serious infection is very high. That in itself is very scary and possibly life-threatening. The doctors estimate he will be in the hospital for about two weeks; if all goes well, he may be able to continue the infusions in outpatient, 3X week for an additional 8-10 weeks. If the treatment works, it may buy him another year or so of life. We are hoping with all our might that will be the case. If not, I'm afraid it's sayonara in a few months. At this time, there are no other treatment options.
We have been more than impressed with the Mayo staff: thorough, competent, and kind. To a person, they are wonderful. It is a great comfort to know Jim is receiving the best medical care possible. We hear the Dalai Lama is here at the clinic but unfortunately have not run into him in the elevator yet, but who knows? :-)
The other source of comfort and strength for us is your care. Thank you to those who have driven the 2-hours from MSP to Rochester to visit, or sent food, or emailed or texted or called. Jim and I feel rich in our friendships with you and family. Although I have not been able to keep up corresponding, both of us feel your loving energy and it holds us up during this time of difficulty.
Just FYI, Mayo is keeping Jim in as sterile an environment as possible. Only one support person is allowed and must be fully masked-up. No PPE is required yet but will be if he gets an infection. (I am thankful that at least I can be with him). No flowers or cards or visitors are permitted. We have a lovely furnished apartment rented for the next three months, right along the Zumbro River and only seven blocks to Mayo. Our address is c/o Lofts at Mayo Park, 123 Sixth Avenue SE, #106, Rochester, MN 55904. I read Jim your messages, as he is too ill to want to talk or text.
Thank you for visiting us through this site. Love, Jim & Thérèse