Thomas J Ulrich | CaringBridge

Thomas J Ulrich Thomas J Ulrich Updates

First post: 1/7/2017 Latest post: 5/3/2017
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Tom and I were looking forward to the New Year 2017. It was only a few weeks until his annual lecture tour was to begin, we had planned a return trip to Cuba in February, and we were looking forward to hiking to Granite Park Chalet this summer. 

But sometimes life throws us curve balls we aren't anticipating, and now we are embarking on an unexpected journey.  It's a journey that many have traveled before us, and we are keeping a positive attitude. Tom came through his quadruple bypass like a rockstar, and we are hopeful that he can successfully climb the mountain set before him now. I'm here to love and support him, and I know others are as well.

2017 got off to a rocky start, and what began as Tom feeling flu-like and nauseous soon added fatigue, petechiae, and jaundice to the symptoms. So he went to see a doctor friend in Fairfield. Tom was scheduled for an ultrasound of his gall bladder which revealed gallstone(s). His EKG was good and bloodwork was ordered in preparation for gall bladder surgery on Friday, January 6. However, the "routine" bloodwork drawn on Tuesday, January 3, would soon reveal abnormalities and an exceptionally high white blood count. The "gall bladder problems" revealed a much more sinister disease. We were advised not to return home to pack a bag; we were to report immediately to the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The doctors first suspected  Acute Myeloid Leukemia, because of the rapid onset. However, the medical team soon ruled out that form of leukemia. After a thorough battery of tests, all markers now point to T-cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia, or T-cell PLL, an aggressive mature T-cell leukemia. So we are located at Room 6943 in the 6900 unit, Leukemia and Lymphoma Center.

The plan of treatment for Tom to begin receiving Campath chemotherapy on Monday, January 9, 3 times/week (MWF) for 12 weeks. Campath chemotherapy (Alemtuzumab) is an anti-CD52 monoclonal antibody that attacks white blood cells. This chemotherapy drug should spare him the typical side effects from chemo:  hair loss and nausea. The side effect from Campath will be that his immune system will be extremely fragile.

We are hopeful and encouraged by the love of family and friends who are already lifting us up in prayer. Tom is already charming the staff here at Siteman with his Glacier Country calendars. Please keep us close in your hearts, thoughts and prayers.

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