Monday, September 17, 2012

Moving Sideways

Usually boring is the best way to be. No bumps in the road. No drama.

I saw Dr. Kipps last week and with his deeply delving fingers he was able to unearth some cervical nodes that no-one, not even the owner of this body, has ever felt.

But they were all small, less that one by one centimeter and maybe smaller than 90 days ago. When they are that size it is hard to tell if there's been any change.

My counts were still good. The neutrophils were back to normal after the jump up from my burst of methylprednisolone for the fluid behind my right eardrum. My platelets were over 400,000 and my Hgb was 13.8. All good stuff.

The CLL is still there but it is behaving itself. It's pretty stable, moving sideways at worst and more likely improving at a glacial pace.

The only trouble on the horizon is that my right ear is clogged up again. Seems that the steroid fix was only temporary so my family doctor suggested a trial of Afrin. It only helped a little and I needed to stop to avoid the rebound swelling that happens with extended use, so it's time to consult an ENT. I am less worried about it, as it is not progressive, easy to knock back, and mostly just annoying. Still time to check it out and make sure there is no structural problem. He may want to put a ventilation tube in, so I better get my surfing in first.

I am down to one infusion a month of IVIG here, and one more blood draw at OSU. That's more good news as my veins are pretty battered after so many years despite all my efforts to protect them.

Let me give you a sense of some of what I see happening in CLL just with people I know.

In this week alone, I learned that a friend, Chris Dwyer of CLL Canada has developed Richter's Transformation. Heard from another long time CLLer with both AIHA and ITP. After having curative surgery for lung cancer, some else is fighting to get back in the NIH ibrutinib trial which helped her knock back her CLL big time. I had dinner and a wonderful visit with a pal from the east coast who is doing great post transplant at MDACC for both CLL and MDS. Another long time local friend is considering the phase three trial of ibrutinib versus ofatumumab for his relapsed CLL. I said go for it. Talked with a young Asian woman who was diagnosed in her twenties. And this is supposed to be a disease of old white men. And I connected with two CLL widows. Not fair. It's not fair, any of this.

Sometimes the CLL is the least of our problems.

I am back in Ohio in a week. Let me know if you will there too.

L'Shana Tova to all my Jewish friends. May it be a year of peace and good health, May this be the year we see a cure to all cancers.

As for myself, at this time of self reflection and self improvement, I plan to double down of getting the word out about CLL to patients and providers alike.

I will be lecturing on CLL in Las Vegas next month to about 400 family doctors, and hope to be reporting from ASH again in Atlanta next December. But I have much bigger plans, Stay tuned

But first I need to visit my granddaughter.

And for something a big more upbeat than CLL, I am growing my own organic tea. We have two beautiful camellia sinensis, variety sinensis bushes each about two feet high. Tried my first cup. Picked a few leaves that had fallen off or been injured in transit, let them wilt in the shade for a hour, steamed them for a minute, dehydrated them at low heat, and then brewed the crispy leaves at 175 º for exactly 75 seconds. A rich smooth flavor, a lovely golden color, an almost silky taste in my cup. I am in heaven. Why didn't I try this before? I will need to let them get much bigger before I can harvest enough to meet my "habit" and must avoid for now picking the new tender growth that makes the best tea, but it's a good start.

It's always good to be starting something new.

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Anonymous jcleri said...

Yes, go see your Granddaughter. I'm so glad to see your priorities remain in the proper order.

Hope to see you back in DB on a regular basis soon.


September 18, 2012 at 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Carl June of Penn at Latimes link below stated he treated 10 more patients with T-cell gene therapy and 5 are now leukemia-free. Suggests that original Penn 3 patient trial is repeatable.

Hopefully you will be able to report more on those promising Penn results too at the upcoming conferences.

September 18, 2012 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

per the above comment; I read the article and was dismayed that their success rate is now only 50%. That means that it is a much worse success rate that other treatments, such as FCR.

Disappointing to say the least.

September 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM  

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