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11/27/2016 Latest post:
John was diagnosed with myeloma last May after routine blood work from an annual physical showed him slightly anemic. He had been anemic for 5+ years and it was getting slightly worse each year so they decided to figure out the root cause. Unfortunately the root cause turned out to be myeloma, a blood cancer where errant plasma cells were crowding out red blood cells. Fortunately he was diagnosed VERY early before there was any collateral damage . Additionally, there have been many advances in myeloma treatments with 4 new drugs approved in the past year, making myeloma more of a chronic disease than a death sentence. John was given the option of doing nothing and monitoring his blood work but he decided to treat it more aggressively since the proposed treatments had minimal side effects.
John underwent about four months of targeted chemo (pills and weekly shots) which put him in full remission. We visited UCSF (one of the top myeloma treatment centers in the country) and they recommended that John have an autologous stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant using his own cells) to push the myeloma into deeper remission. Although this treatment seems severe for a cancer that was caught so early, it offers a 10-15% chance of permanent remission and can allow John to go treatment-free for 5+ years.
On November 16th, John harvested 5.45 million stem cells in a single session at UCSF (they had warned that this could take 4 sessions). He had minimal side effects from this whole procedure - mainly fatigue when he returned home.
On November 26th, John was admitted to UCSF for his autologous stem cell transplant. He will be there for 2 1/2 - 3 weeks, followed by 30 days of "house arrest" in Brentwood.