As of Sat, Oct 1, 2016, Martha and I are reviving our CaringBridge site ... since the activity of her cancer has increased. The journal entry made on Oct 1 will describe the current challenges and our action plans. The journal entry made on Oct 2 was one Martha had written on July 30th ... prior to knowing the cancer was active again. Somehow, it was not posted. We share that now to give you the perspective of where she was at then, and how quickly things can change.
Martha is now a 6 year survivor, first diagnosed Sep 10, 2010. This site was active for Chap 1 from Sep 2011 to Mar 2013 for Martha's 1st transplant after being diagnosed in Sep 2010, the followed with Chap 2 for July to November 2015 covering the 2nd transplant after her relapse in Jan 2015.
For Chap 3: Aug-Sep 2016 have given "us" two major challenges that have significantly impacted our quality of life, both of which are indications that the level of cancer activity has increased substantively since the "low" at the end of May. The coming months of Oct-Nov will encompass a stronger treatment regimen. We are optimistic that by the end of November we will have the "genie back in the bottle".
We have often stated "You are the air beneath our wings!" Your active support, prayers, and dialogue give us strength to meet our challenges ... standing tall with a spring in our step.
With love, Dave
Milestones of my Myeloma Journey:
1) Sep 4, 2010: my annual physical showed monoclonal protein in my blood, the myeloma marker in an early stage not treated, but monitored every 2 months.
2) Mar 4, 2011: 3 indicators moved to "red flag", showing myeloma active; time to initiate treatment. (monoclonal protein, hemoglobin, bone lesions)
3) Mar 28, 2011: Start of Induction Treatment, planned for 3 28day cycles of VRD regimen. (Velcade Revlimid Dexamethosone; V&R are new novel targeted drugs introduced in 2005/2006; VRD combo approved June 2010). First 28 day cycle was incredibly effective with the marker "monoclonal protein" 3.09 on start day and 0.98 on end day. Instead of THREE 28 day cycles, I only took ONE 28 day cycle to exceed the 50% reduction target to qualify for the transplant, stage 2 of the treatment regimen.
4) April 3, 2011: for the 2nd/3rd 28 day cycles ... oral maintenance level dosage in prep for transplant.
5) May 19, 2011: transplant center selection made: Dr. Charles Frederick LeMaistre, Director, Texas Transplant Institute, Methodist Hospital System, San Antonio, TX. He is a national leader in the stem cell transplant space.
6) July 5, 2011: dental infection complication: initial discovery of subtle tooth infection, tooth must be extracted, infection must be eliminated prior to transplant.
7) July 29 to Aug 4, 2011: 7.48 million stem cells per kg harvested at the transplant center. This is 87% more than the min required for 2 transplants.
8) Aug 10, 2011: tooth extraction by my peridontist with finesse; tooth sectioned in three, pulled out one root at a time; perfect healing was fast.
9) Sep 19-20: Motorcoach to Boerne as "home base" for outpatient treatment in San Antonio.
9) Sep 21-22: Days -2 and -1: Transplant process continues with 2 days of high-dose melphalan chemo; purpose: to clean out the bone marrow and kill ALL myeloma cancer cells immediately! (outpatient)
10) Sep 23: Day Zero: Transplant Day Infusion of 4.28 million stem cells per kg, 2 times the min required. (outpatient)
11) Sep 24-27: Days 1-4: the "honeymoon"; minimum side effects (outpatient).
12) Sep 28-Oct 1: Days 5-8: high dose melphalan hit me like a "ton of bricks" (1245 am, day 5) ... lost 7 pounds in less than an hour! White blood cells are zero! (Inpatient by 8am day 5!)
13) Oct 2-3: Days 9-10: new stem cells begin to create new blood cells; the tide is turning!
14) Oct 4-7: Days 11-14: day-by-day, dramatic growth in blood counts and reduction of side effects.
15) Oct 9: Day 16: Return home to Kerrville!
16) Oct 19: Day 26: Care returns to my oncologist in Austin. Key blood counts are within RANGE for first time in more than 15 years! Both transplant physician and oncologist are amazed at quick recovery of blood counts. (WBC, RBC, Hemoglobin, Platelets)