A Brand New Day

If things work out for me, I won’t be back to MD Anderson for another three months. That’s the first marker in a long line of check points I’ll face moving forward. For patients with chronic forms of leukemia, it’s often not a sprint, but a marathon.

With all of the drama of the past couple of months, my visit yesterday was like skipping dinner and walking straight into a Ben & Jerry’s. Ice cream for dinner, I’ll take it every time. There were no biopsies, bad news, or premature revelations. It was simply an appointment to pick up my new trial medication and a follow-up with Dr. Ciurea, my stem cell doctor.

I’ve often bragged on my doctors in the past, but I continue to be grateful for the wonderful people at MD Anderson. A good medical team makes all the difference in the world. It’s such a refreshing feeling to have someone come in, sit down, listen to our concerns, and give us positive feedback. It makes the battle a whole lot easier.

After meeting with Dr. Cortes, we were able to see Dr. Ciurea. We were originally scheduled to meet with him next week, but the higher costs of traveling prompted us to kill two birds with one stone. I’m thankful we were able to be squeezed in.

As far as finding a perfect donor match, there isn’t one. The best unrelated donor in the system matched me at 8 out of 10 markers. From a percentage standpoint, the best related donor I have is my brother, who shares 9 out of 10 markers. However, Dr. Ciurea told us there is published research from Johns Hopkins which suggests the long term prognosis is better when using a donor that matches at only 50% rather than one at 90%. If a bone marrow transplant is necessary, then my father will be chosen to be my donor.

My blood work will be monitored every two weeks to make sure that things are normalizing. In three months, I’ll return to Houston for a bone marrow biopsy. From there, we’ll begin to see the effects of Ponatinib, or lack thereof. Our true marker won’t be until the six month mark, however. If leukemic cells are dying off at the cellular level, there’s a good chance that I’ll be on the road to remission. That is our hope.

For the moment, it feels like the calm after the storm. The sun has come up, but the cityscape is damaged with downed trees and misplaced debris. By the grace of God, Katie and I have weathered another storm, learning valuable and life-changing lessons along the way. I know more storm clouds loom on the horizon, but for now, I’ll relish in the simplicities of every day living.

Thank you for reading.

 

Complete blood count shows a high white blood cell count after a month and a half without medication.

The second picture shows my counts on the left and the normal ranges on the right.

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