Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Over nine years of blogging since transplant for CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) on July 1, 2008

This picture, painted by son William, launched by blog and was originally painted as a way to remember me after I was gone. Now it just serves to reminds us of a more challenging time.

My story telling all started here in this blog.

On July 1, I celebrated nine years since my allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell (bone marrow) transplant. There are a ton of posts around that time pre and post about my ups and downs.

In May, it was five years since I started in a phase 1 trial of PCI-32765, now better known as ibrutinib to control by advancing chronic lymphocytic leukemia and avoid another set of death threats from plunging platelets due to my auto-immune dysfunctions or ITP (immune thrombocytopenic purpura). Lots of post sharing my inner processes and fears and triumphs.

Next September, it will be 12 years since my CLL diagnosis when I felt some lumps on the back of my neck and my blood test showed too many lymphocytes.

It's been almost 11 years since my first of five hospitalizations for crashing platelets culminating in losing half my blood after an urgent splenectomy.

I am lucky to be alive.

I am just darn lucky, but as others have said, we can at least to some extent, make our own luck as I have tried to do by becoming an expert patient and an advocate for myself and others with CLL.

And the last dozen years has had more than its share of rewards.

During these times, I have written my will, but I have not made any concrete funeral plans. I don't believe I am going soon and will likely change my ideas for the best memorial as I age. Plus I am too busy and alive.

I have walked two daughters down the aisle, and been blessed with 3 granddaughters. 

I have outlived by father of blessed memory. That was not likely when I has first diagnosed.

I have attended too many funerals of other CLL patients and a few friends who helped me on this journey.

I have held in my arms euthanized pained and sick cats and dogs as they breathed their last.

I have moved my home several times, quit work as a family doctor because I was too sick, fatigued and immune suppressed, and now returned to my medical practice, still sick, fatigued and immune suppressed, but making it work, making a difference in my patients' lives.

My blog tells much of the story until about two years ago, when it fell almost silent, mostly just echoing what was happening with my new love, the nonprofit CLL Society Inc. 

It happened because it became clear that my chronological tale of my own failed transplant, brushes with death, hard decisions and my life saving move to Ohio for an experimental treatment, while cathartic for me, and helpful for many, was not the best way to share what I had fought hard to learn over the last decade.

I set up the nonprofit CLL Society Inc. which is much bigger than my particular story and is as wide as it is deep in CLL knowledge and wisdom because many others pour their experience into it.

There we are saving lives. There we are changing how CLL is treated. 

But it all started here.

It has been amazingly rewarding as I have traveled the world talking to CLL doctors and patients and industry about the patients' perspective. I have friends wherever I  go around this small globe: doctors, researchers, patients, advocates, and caregivers, that know me or the CLL Society or this humble blog.

But setting up a nonprofit, especially one with a ferocious appetite for new material and research that yours truly produces nearly every week, one that does its own research and advocacy and teaching and consulting, all with a amazing but tiny staff and wonderful volunteers,  plus practicing family medicine again where the burnout rate is soaring, keeping pace with the rising bureaucratic demand of medicine, and being an an available husband, father, grandfather and friend doesn't leave much time for blogging.

The blog has been neglected, given short shrift. Like the wayward husband who leaves his true love who stood by him for years for a younger trophy wife, I make the excuse that I have outgrown it.

But I haven't. 

I still need it.

And I believe that it still fills a need for others.

Despite my years of benign neglect, it was just rated as one of the top 10 leukemia blogs and has had over 1,100, 000 page views.  Over 1,100 posts since I started in April, 2008.

I am not promising that I will be posting daily again soon. In fact I am sure that I won't, but I did post this one and that's a start. 

I have other burning issues that would be best shared here as a good place to noodle about my concerns and decisions. 


Stay tuned.

Stay strong.

We are all in this together.


If the CLL Society has helped you or a loved one, please consider making a contribution.

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Blogger BobNYC said...

Brian, never doubt that whatever you choose to post and whenever you choose to post is most welcome by this community you created.

July 9, 2017 at 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Donate Money for Cancer Patients said...

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July 17, 2017 at 4:29 AM  
Blogger sweener87 said...

For all you do we are forever grateful.

July 30, 2017 at 3:08 PM  

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