Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Years!

On December 29, it will be two years since I was in the University of Washington Medical Center Hospital having my stem cells transplanted.  It is such a vivid memory that it seems impossible that nearly two years have passed. 

When I was released from the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at the conclusion of the two and a half month transplant process, I had an exit conference with the attending doctor.  It was a somewhat disheartening consultation because of this part of the final report:

She does have a history of translocation 14;16, monosomy 13 and 17 on cytogenetics of myeloma cells...The problem is with high risk cytogenetics, patients do not tend to have very long durable remissions after autologous transplant, usually it is only about nine months to a year on  average and then their disease comes back...therefore, it is reasonable to consider maintenance therapy.

Nine months to a year?  I knew that was an average and that it was based on history, but I felt quite discouraged at the time.  However, as I continued to recover and improve, I thought less and less about this bleak possibility. I did go on to have maintenance therapy using Velcade for six months and it was successful 

Now, it is two years later and I am still in remission with just that pesky lambda light chain beginning to misbehaveEven with my high risk cytogenetics, I am on the long side of the average.  I'll take it!

Lily and Her Christmas Tree

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Results Are In

The last few weeks have involved waiting for results. As I noted in my last post, my lambda light chain has trended up out of the normal range of 5.7 - 26.3:

 9/24/12  -  20.61
10/26/12 -  27.57  (H)
11/05/12 -  33.62  (H)
11/29/12 -  42.64  (H) 

On November 19, I had a bone marrow biopsy and then had a long wait until November 29 to get the results.  For most of the wait I was fine. But as the 29th drew near, my stress level went up and I was ready for the waiting to be over.  What a relief it was when my oncologist reported the results.  My bone marrow was fine with less than 1% plasma cells.  In fact, it was almost the same as it was a year and a half ago three months after transplant.  

Next, my oncologist ordered another blood test and a complete CT scan to rule out the possibility of another plasmacytoma forming. I was able to have the scan the next day and then the "waiting for results" limbo began again.  I don't know why I was even more stressed about the CT scan but I was.  On December 6, I had another appointment with my oncologist to get the CT results.  It is a good thing I love my doctor since I see him so often!  Sometimes, he gets behind on the schedule because he never hurries his patients and takes so much time with each one so the wait can be longSince my appointment was late in the day, I was expecting a long and stressful wait, but he was on time. My CT scan was clear and I was two for two on my tests!  

However, my lambda light chain had gone up again and was at 42.64.  My doctor had consulted with his colleague and they both advised that we just sit tight at this point.  The small number of myeloma cells are not hurting me or making me ill,  so we will wait until January to make any decisions on how to proceed.  My oncologist will consult with the myeloma experts at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to get their opinion.  

Realistically, I know that the time will come when the myeloma cells will need a "slap down" but the time is not right now and I am not going to worry about it (much) until my next appointment in January.  In the meantime, I am going to start getting excited about Christmas and enjoying the season.

Here I am relaxing and enjoying Christmas in my living room.