My trip to MD Anderson yesterday was successful. That seems like too much of a relative term in regards to the big picture, but it was successful in the sense that I started my new treatment plan. I had expected for my blood counts to be off. I hadn’t been on medication for about two months in anticipation of being a part of a clinical trial for the t-315i mutation I was originally told I had. A normal white blood cell count is between 6 and 12 thousand, but as of yesterday mine was around 75 thousand. It’s an indication that my Leukemia was hard at work producing bogus white blood cells without my permission.
I am now on a chemo drug called Sprycel. It’s creator is a company called Bristol Myers Squibb. Without insurance, it costs over ten thousand dollars a month. My part is one hundred and twenty. It’s a small price to pay to stay alive. I’m very thankful that things have turned out this way. My oncologist told me that Sprycel has now been approved, suggested even, as a first line of defense for patients with CML. In my case, it is the second course of treatment. It is a smaller pill, 100mg vs Gleevec’s 400mg, but works within the body in a little different way. I could suffer from fluid buildup near the lungs, causing shortness of breath, and Dr. Cortes said that we’d have to monitor it’s effects on my liver, two things I never had to worry about before. I even had to get an EKG done on my heart to get a baseline for future appointments. It’s all a little different from what I’m used to, but it’s a much better option than having a mutation that could possibly reject all forms of treatment.
I asked Dr. Cortes about my previous mutation tests. I am still baffled by being told by UT Southwestern that I had the mutation versus finding out later on in a different test that there were no signs of it. He couldn’t really give me an answer as to why, but he told me that there’s a possibility that the mutation is there in very small and undetectable amounts. Then he said that the tests are a little tricky and even good labs can have a hard time with them. The best thing we can do is continue to monitor results and react to the information we do have.
As for now, I can’t be more thrilled about the optimism of hope. These past four months have been the hardest that I’ve had to go through mentally and I’m truly grateful for God’s grace in my life.