Sunday, May 19, 2013

True Hope

True hope is swift and flies with 
swallow's wings;
Kings it makes gods 
and meaner creatures kings.
William Shakespeare

Since last October when my lambda light chain moved up out of the normal range, I have clung to the hope that my relapsing myeloma would respond to treatment.  

At first, the upward trend of the light chain was something to keep under surveillance with "watchful waiting" the medical plan.  When it kept elevating, low dose Velcade injections every other week became the plan of action.  After eight weeks, the light chain leaped up to 100.86 and a new and more aggressive plan of attack began.  

In my last post, I mentioned my discouragement when I wasn't able to complete the first cycle of this more aggressive treatment because my platelets, absolute neutrophils, WBC and RBC had taken a dive.  How was the Velcade supposed to work if I couldn't get through the first  cycle of treatment?  I had to work hard to keep the word hope in my vocabulary.

Last week I had my monthly oncologist appointment and complete blood work done.  My counts were back up and I was able to begin my second cycle of treatment and I felt a glimmer of hope that this cycle would be different.  I knew I would have to wait a few days to get the results of the light chain tests, but I receive them online  and it was just a matter of waiting to hear.  I expected to be notified on May 20 or 21, but I was in for a surprise.

Last night (Saturday night!) at about 9:00 PM, I received an email telling me my results were available online.  It was with trembling hands that I went to the website and typed in my user name and password.  I had convinced myself that I would be happy if the light chain had gone up again but at a slower pace.  My expectations weren't very high.   

True hope WAS swift and it did fly on swallow's wings!  My lambda light chain had gone DOWN to 69.82 from 100.86 in April and 83.81 in March!  It is the first time in months that  I felt my hopes soar.  The light chain had dropped about 31 points with only three of the four planned treatments.  What will it do if I can have all four in the second cycle? I know I still have a distance to go before I get back into the normal lambda light chain range of 5.7 - 26.3, but my new number sounds a whole lot better than 100.86!  And besides, this is the first time since July of 2012 that the number has reversed course. 

As exciting as the drop in the light chain is, I am just as happy to know that Velcade is still working for me.  There are a number of drug options available, but I am thankful that I may not need them yet.  It is good to have an arsenal in reserve.  


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Disappointing Start

It is the third week of the first cycle of my new battle plan to defeat the recurrence of multiple myeloma. The cycle calls for Velcade twice a week for two weeks with no treatment on the third week. I am not off to an auspicious start.   

Week One:  I had Velcade on Tuesday and Friday. The treatment seemed to cause a low grade headache and I was pretty tired, but it was manageable.

Week Two:  On Tuesday I went in for treatment and my CBC showed that my platelets had dropped to 92 which required the nurse to get approval from the doctor to proceed with the Velcade injection which I had.  My next treatment was scheduled for Friday.  As I expected, my platelets had dropped again - to 68!  My WBC, RBC and Absolute Neutrophils (infection fighters) had dropped as well.  Much to my dismay, I was unable to have treatment that day. Managing chemo drugs and blood counts is like walking a tightrope, so I am thankful to have such a fine team of medical professionals taking care of me.

Week Three:  I am on vacation from treatment until May 14.  Vacation sounds like it should be a good thing, but I am feeling discouraged that I couldn't get through the first cycle without my numbers dropping below the threshold for treatment.  Until I can be assured that my CBC numbers have rebounded a bit, I will be keeping a low profile.  In fact, I just sent Brent off to the grocery store to do some shopping!

On a much brighter note, we have been having lovely weather.  Yesterday, Seattle tied with Phoenix for the highest big city temperature in the country - 87 degrees!  This warmer than usual weather has made for a glorious display of wisteria on our porch. The wonder of nature and the rebirth each spring brings is a boost to the most flagging of spirits.