I’m not sure why I have waited this long to document the news and happenings of the past weeks. I think perhaps that I needed some answers, some resolution, before I put it here. Of course, everyone else already knows! Family, friends, Facebook!! Everyone has been praying and encouraging. So I’m really not sure why I waited….
Early May. I had been waiting for my call from Dr. Shah regarding my bone marrow biopsy (BMB) results. I had already gotten a good report on my labs and CT for my two-year post stem-cell check up. I missed her call on Friday, May 9, while at the grocery store. She had left a message asking for a good time to call back. Her message seemed odd to me. If everything had been ok, she would have just left a message saying so…. Hmmm. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and we were busy with family. I didn’t mention the phone call.
Monday afternoon, May 12, Dr. Shah called with results that none of us were expecting. Minimal Residual Disease (MRD). And my donor cell count had reduced back to 96% from the 100% it had achieved. It doesn’t sound horrible where you may be sitting, but it was not good news. As the eternal optimist, Dr. Shah scheduled another biopsy to rule out a false positive and/or check for possible growth.
Almost immediately, Paul went back into research mode, but there just wasn’t enough information for anything conclusive. We would just have to wait.
Three days later, on May 15, after 21 years with the company, Paul lost his job. Out of the blue, unmerited, managed out. Well, that’s one way to get your mind off cancer! They not only took his job, but our health and life insurance, his truck, his phone, his retirement plan…. He had been completely devoted and dedicated to his company. This was more than just losing a job. It was like losing a part of him.
The one highlight of the last few weeks was our fourth anniversary. This was Paul’s year to plan, so of course it was already paid for. :) We first spent time in Fredericksburg, got rained out of Cascade Caverns again, climbed Enchanted Rock, visited some old and new wineries, and then came the surprise…Cypress Valley Canopy Tours. We stayed in a tree house in the woods! There was a beautiful private bathhouse with a rock waterfall spa across the bridge. The next morning, we enjoyed the zip-line tour on the property. Amazing. It was wonderful to put all our concerns aside for a few days and just enjoy each other.
June 11 was my follow up bone marrow biopsy. June 12, Paul accepted a position with Graco Mechanical, working for his best friend. How cool is that? They have been in the same field for all these years but never had the opportunity to work together. Paul is looking forward to working in a more positive environment. There are some concerns regarding such a big change in our insurance, etc., but God is bigger than insurance!
June 18, I got my call from Dr. Shah with the results from my follow up BMB. The good news was that the abnormal cells (MRD) had not increased. The bad news was that it had not been a false positive as was hoped. The leukemia is trying to inch back slowly. She did not have the results of my chimerism test (donor %), so we would have to continue to wait on that. If the % continues to fall, then action will most likely have to be taken…such as a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI). It’s like a stem cell booster.
Dr. Shah is consulting with my leukemia doctor, Dr. O’Brien, to determine the ongoing course of action. She feels like a less invasive course is best for now. That would include regular blood draws to check CBC counts and flow cytometry via blood instead of bone marrow. I have an appointment to see Dr. O’Brien on June 30 and am scheduled for another BMB in October.
We were able to take an additional week off before Paul started his new job and go back to the country for several days. My daughter and her family came for four of them, and we had a family get together for my brother’s birthday. I love our time in our little slice of heaven, and I love sharing it with the people dear to me!
June 26. I got word from Dr. Shah this morning that my chimerism results (donor %) came back at 97%!! That's UP a % from last month!! Thank you, God!!! They still want me to meet with Dr. O'Brien, my leukemia doctor, on Monday to re-do my labs and set up a new follow up schedule. But for now, as far as I understand, I do not have to proceed with a DLI or any other procedures. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who continue to pray for me!!!
The past couple months have felt like an emotional roller coaster, but God has continued to ride it with us! What a difference that makes!!!
Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”