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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Birthday Postscript

Here is my grandson, Logan, helping me try to blow out the candles on my birthday cake.  Thank goodness Gretchen economized on the number of candles, or a much larger cake would have been in order, not to mention a probable call to the fire department.  They were trick candles, which kept re-igniting, which Logan referred to as "silly candles".  I'm so glad Brian, Pam, and Logan drove up from New Jersey for my birthday.  We were joined by Jeff and Christine, along with our dear friends, Bobby and Cathy, for a delightful celebration dinner.  It was a wonderful day!

Today I went in to Dana Farber for a CBC (complete blood count) blood test to check my WBC and absolute neutrophil count (ANC).  I could have scheduled the test locally and avoided the trip into Boston, since I didn't have any appointments or infusion scheduled.  However, while there I was able to pick up a couple of 24-hour urine collection bottles, one of which I need for my next monthly visit.  (Just try collecting 24 hours of urine in a coke bottle or whatever other random receptacle you might have lying around the house.  It's not a pretty sight.)  I also refilled a prescription for folic acid at the pharmacy, the last of which I just used up this morning.  Also, I had a chance to stop in and chat with my favorite nurse, Heather, so all in all, it was worthwhile to make the trip.

The good news is that my blood test results came back great!  My white blood cell count went up from 2.3 last week to 3.0, still below the normal range, but higher than it has been in months.  My platelets have also jumped back up to a normal 173.  The best news is that my ANC jumped from 1.19 to 2.13, back into the normal range.  I'm no longer neutropenic!  That means that I seem to be tolerating my 5mg dose level of Revlimid pretty well.  I'm really glad my ANC level is back to normal, as I was a bit concerned about my susceptibility to infections, especially with cold and flu season imminent.

There was a recent audio teleconference on the Cure Panel Talk Show with the noted MM oncologist, Dr. James Berenson.  Among the panelists were Pat Killingsworth and Matt Goldman, both of whom were panelists with me on the WEGO Health video teleconference we recently recorded (which hasn't yet been published).  Here is a link to the show:  Cure Panel Talk Show with Dr. Berenson.

Berenson has a very different view of MM treatment from Dr. Richardson and a lot of the rest of the MM community.  At one extreme is the University of Arkansas Myeloma Institute, which promotes the most aggressive approach, Total Therapy 3, involving heavy chemotherapy and multiple auto and allo stem cell transplants.  Dr. Richardson doesn't subscribe to tandem transplants, but believes in hitting MM hard up front to beat it down early and keep it down.  Dr. Berenson's approach, on the other hand, is "do no harm".  His concern is to maximize quality of life by minimizing side effects, and he never recommends stem cell transplants for any of his patients.  It's very interesting to hear the vastly different approaches to managing this disease from the various experts.  No wonder it's so confusing for us patients to know what to do.  Dr.  Berenson will be presenting several papers at the upcoming ASH  conference, and he promises to report some exciting results on carfilzomib (Krypolis) and pomalidomide trials.

I will be following the ASH conference closely, and I'm looking forward to seeing some substantial progress in the battle against MM.  I will share my observations and comments over the next couple of weeks.

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