REMISSION!!!

I have been dreaming of making this entry for a while now…

I am in 100% remission. My bone marrow is normal for a person my age with no evidence of leukemia or any other blood cancer! You know, I knew I would cry when I got the results, regardless of what they were. I am so relived. I have so many feelings right now it is really hard to describe.

Yesterday’s counts:

White Blood Cells: 4.2
Neutrophils: 2400
Hemoglobin: 13.5
Platelets: 249,000

Light the Night

Light the Night

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On Sunday, Oct. 23, I will be participating in a Light the Night walk benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I will keep a link to my fundraising page on the right side of this site until the walk is over. I would appreciate any support 🙂

I have to thank my mother-in-law for all her support through all of this. She is the one organizing this Light the Night team. She is the team captain. She named our team the Cowchip Crusaders. Why cowchip? Well my father-in-law has used that name for me rather than my Polish surname 🙂

When my hair started falling out after my first round of chemo and I shaved my head, a number of my male family and friends shaved their heads too. BUT my mother-in-law also shaved her head. Very impressive. One Sunday a number of them, including my mother-in-law, came and visited me in the hospital right after they had shaved their heads. That kind of support or just show of people thinking and caring about you was amazing. Getting teary eyed just writing this and remembering.

By the way, all the comments on this blog by “Katy”? That is my mother-in-law 🙂 Thank you for all of your great support Katy!

Bone Marrow Aspirate Number Three

Well, as I get these bone marrow aspirates, I get better at it. You can breath through pain and it really helps. That is not to say it was not painful. It was. I felt it from my toe tips to my finger tips, in my bones, all over. It’s quite an amazing jolt really. Anyhow I am glad to be past another one.

Good news. Between rounds three and four of chemotherapy my blood was sent off for molecular testing. It all came back negative. That is a good sign going into today’s bone marrow aspirate.

I also had my counts taken:

White Blood Count: 4.6
Neutrophils: 2600
Hemoglobin: 13.4
Platelets: 315,000

All pretty good. Getting close on the hemoglobin.

And I started maintenance today. Once a week a shot of methotrexate. Daily two pills of mercatopurine. And every three months a fifteen day round of ATRA. So today I got the methotrexate shot and started taking mercatopurine and ATRA (again).

SWAG CBC

Today I am going to SWAG my CBC before I have it done:

White Blood Count: 4.7
Neutrophils: 2700
Hemoglobin: 12.6
Platelets: 170,000

We will see how close I am in a few hours (I’ll post the actuals later today). If I am real close, I am going to start calling in my counts and skip the weekly blood draws.

Note: For those of you not in the finance world, SWAG essentially means “guess estimate”. I will leave it to you to decipher the acronym 🙂

CBC

The most common blood test for me is one tube, called a ‘CBC’. I did not know what CBC stood for but assumed blood was the B and one of the Cs was count. Well I asked today. CBC is “Complete Blood Count”. So with no further adieu…

Today’s CBC:

White Blood Cells: 4.0
Neutrophils: 1700
Hemoglobin: 12.2
Platelets: 77,000 (a little low but expected to bounce back)

Yesterday, I had this dang nosebleed at work. Took forever for it to stop, so I knew I was low on platelets anyhow. The doctor expects them to come back soon based on my CBC history.

My maintenance plan calls for a weekly shot for the next two years. And it is not the kind of shot I can give myself. So I was concerned that I will not be able to leave town for more than six or seven days for the next two years. So I asked about that too. I can leave for 10 or 12 days no problem, schedule around it. Great! I am off to Scandinavia in October or November. Light travel just me and a bag. Oh and maybe a big coat. Scandinavia. Brrr.

Next question for the Oncologist: “Can I get a piercing with the same risk as anyone else?” Answer: “Maybe in the next two years. Let’s talk the next time you come in.” Hmm…maybe I should have mentioned I was thinking nose. Like it did not bleed enough yesterday…

Wellness

I felt really good all weekend. Still do. My taste still has not returned. So, early June is the last time anything really tasted right. Hopefully in time.

Tomorrow is a another good test of how I am actually doing. Regular blood test. Hopefully that machine won’t give me any more grief!

False Positive

You know, I have really only heard the term “false positive” in regards to pregnancy tests. Well yesterday I had a false positive on my blood test. When I got my machine read blood counts the basic counts were as expected: White Blood Cells at 1.3, neutrophils at 600, hemoglobin at 12 and platelets at 140,000. At the bottom of the of the read out are descriptions or warnings if any of the counts are out of an expected range. An example is the normal range for a male’s hemoglobin is 14 – 18 anything below that is considered anemic. I have been at 12 or 13 all through chemotherapy. So my count sheet usually reports anemic. Yesterday’s showed anemic and neutropenic and a new one for me, “blast”. If you have acute leukemia, blast is not a good word. It is not taken as “having a blast”, it means blast cells were detected. What are blast cells? They are immature (malformed) white blood cells. Basically, they are leukemia. So, I panic. First thoughts are “I went through four miserable rounds of chemotherapy for what???” Then I talk to my nurse in the infusion room. She tells me things happen with the machine, they will do a manual check in the lab. My oncologist/hematologist’s nurse tells me the same thing and that she will call me with the results.

Two hours passed between leaving the oncology office and getting her call. I will be honest with you. I was scared. I cried. I panicked. I have a pretty good sense of how much I want 100% remission now.

In the manual test, under the microscope, no blast cells were found. Whew.

A Blast of Neulasta

Like all my other outpatient rounds of chemotherapy, we end with a white blood cell booster shot. Neulasta. I guess it is good. My counts came back nice and quick after round two. Obviously not so well after round three. Let’s hope we do well this time 🙂 Had the Neulasta shot today. Basically that means bone aches tomorrow. Ugh. Along with being tired from chemotherapy. This soon shall pass.

Come on bone marrow! Come on hair follicles!

What chemo is like.

I have gotten used to chemotherapy…

First I feel tired. Then everything taste wrong. Then I have to go to the bathroom more than usual. Then I have an appetite or craving for something and by the time I get it, I don’t want it. Mostly just tired. At the worst it is mouth sores.

Sound like being pregnant? Seems to me any symptom one can dream up while going through pregnancy or chemotherapy will be attributed to pregnancy and chemotherapy. Thus, signs of pregnancy, everything. Signs of chemotherapy, everything.

Counts are looking good!

I think I am finally coming out of my round three chemo daze!

Today’s counts:

White Blood Cells: 4.3 (good)
Neutrophils: 2100 (good enough for now)
Hemoglobin: 10.7 (12 – 16 would be nice, but 10 is safe)
Platelets: 182,000 (200,000 – 400,000 is ideal)

Other than two mouth sores, I think I am finally done with round three!

F/N

F/N = Fever and neutropenic. Apparently it is a pretty common reaction to the chemotherapy… I just did not want it to be my reaction! Good news though. No fever this morning. Let’s hope those white blood cells and neutrophils are chugging along too.

Someone once told me, “if you want to get some rest, don’t come to the hospital.” True words. I certainly remember the drill: vitals every four hours, blood draws as six in the morning. And every time a nurse comes in, “When was your last bowel movement?”