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5/5/2017 Latest post:
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In February 2017 Wanda was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive lymphoma. Five years ago, her earlier diagnosis of a low-grade lymphoma transformed into a (single-hit) large B-cell lymphoma for which she received six chemotherapy treatments. In June 2012 Wanda was declared cancer-free. However, a low-grade lymphoma is never really "cured" but managed as a chronic condition that can come out of dormancy every few years.
In September 2016 the low-grade lymphoma came out of dormancy. By the end of December, it had spread to more lymph nodes in her neck, her esophagus, and her lungs. In January 2017 Wanda's oncologist suggested a course of fifteen radiation treatments in order to shrink the larger lymph nodes in preparation for another series of chemotherapy treatments. Those larger lymph nodes shrank as expected so there was no indication that Wanda was dealing with anything other than a low-grade lymphoma which had finally come out of dormancy.
However, as she began her initial chemotherapy treatment, she went into respiratory distress and wasn't able to recover on her own. She was placed in intensive care for six nights, underwent a kidney biopsy, and then hospitalized in the oncology unit for another nine nights. The kidney biopsy showed that the low-grade lymphoma transformed into a (triple-hit) large B-cell lymphoma. Each "hit" represents a single genetic mutation which makes the current lymphoma extremely aggressive, dangerous, and difficult to treat and cure.
Wanda completed her first treatment cycle in the hospital and was discharged after her lungs and kidneys recovered sufficiently to go home. She has now successfully completed two more treatment cycles. Last week, Wanda's PET scan & blood work showed no traces of lymphoma. However, more radical steps are necessary to bring Wanda's health to a successful conclusion.
Wanda will complete a fourth treatment cycle to keep the aggressive lymphoma suppressed. Meanwhile, a transplant team will evaluate her case this week to determine what further steps are necessary to qualify her as a candidate for a stem cell transplant. If there are no red flags, her stem cells will be harvested in late May and preserved for future transplant.
On June 5 Wanda will be hospitalized for three weeks. That first week the cancer and immune system will be destroyed with chemotherapy. Her preserved stem cells will be reintroduced and allowed to reproduce over two weeks to restore her immune system hopefully without any traces of lymphoma. She'll need the months of July and August to fully recover at home.
We were sobered to hear there is only a 50% success rate for a stem cell transplant. The transplant specialist was impressed to see how well Wanda has responded to treatment so far and how well she is doing now. Since she doesn't have any other risk factors (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), her odds for a successful stem cell transplant were upgraded to 60%.
We have seen God answer so many prayers to bring Wanda to this point where she can move forward. So we're not looking at this as a glass half-empty but rather as a glass half-full.