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10/17/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting. Upon returning from Florida in May 2016, Mary had a routine physical with her GP - Dr McClintic. He noticed her kidney numbers were a little off and sent her to a Kidney specialist - Dr. Singh who after doing some tests noticed her protein level was very high and sent her to an oncologist - Dr. Lash at Guthrie. After an MRI, pet scan and a bone marrow test - he concluded that Mary had a relatively rare cancer called Multiple Myeloma which is a cancer of the bone marrow. It was at the beginning stage - either Stage 1 or Stage 2 depending upon which scale was used. He recommended starting Mary on a relatively new cancer drug treatment called VRD - (Velcade, Revlimid and Dexamethasone). The Revlimid was a pill and unfortunately Mary contracted Shingles and a rash from this medicine after the first month. The Shingles went away after a week and the rash disappeared after she stopped taking Revlimid. The Velcade was given as a weekly shot at the Cancer Center at Guthrie Corning. Mary has taken a total of 12 shots and her numbers have improved to the point that the protein level is registering within normal range.
After visiting the Roswell Cancer Institute in Buffalo and talking to Doctor Sophia Balderman, Mary has decided to pursue a stem cell transplant of her own stem cells. This treatment is a standard treatment for Multiple Myeloma at major cancer institutions like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the Dana Farber Clinic in Boston. Although not a guarantee, this process could double Mary's years of survival. Assuming a 5 to 10 year basic survival, this could result in a 10 to 20 year survival. We are encouraged by the success stories and the experiences of people like Tom Brokaw who has Multiple Myeloma. Although it can never be cured - we are hopeful it can be managed through drugs and stem cell transplants.
We are hopeful that the stem cell transplant procedure can be done by January so we can spend the winter months in Sarasota, Florida. The procedure is pretty rigorous and requires many weeks of monitoring for infection and other side effects. After harvesting her stem cells, they will give her a high dose of chemotherapy which is intended to kill any remaining cancer cells. Then they will reinsert her stem cells. They call that Day 1 of the rest of her life. Mary will probably lose her hair and will suffer from the usual side effects of the chemo while she is in the hospital.
We are very appreciative of the prayers and words of encouragement. We are very positive and pray daily that her treatment will be successful.