"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." -Daniel 2:22
"Do not fear, for I am with you..." -Isaiah 43:5
"...we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion." -Daniel 9:18

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From Death Row to General Population

We had a good visit with the oncologist today. After spending the last year and a half on what amounts to death row, we feel good about being released back into general population. While we are still in the cancer prison, we no longer anticipate death on a daily basis.
Al started out with a whole lot of myeloma cells in April '07. After 2 chemo treatments and 2 stem cell transplants, he is down to .5%. A really big reduction. The first chemo treatments nearly killed him. The transplants were not expected to put him in remission, but did greatly reduce the amount of cancer cells.
Then the radiation helped arrest the deterioration in his back and legs. He has finally begun to feel pretty good. He seems to be getting past the side effects from the radiation and the new chemo doesn't seem to have any - yet.
He will be on the new chemo, Velcade for a few more weeks before they do tests to determine whether or not it is decreasing the myeloma even more. If so, they will continue him on his present regimen of 2 weeks on and 1 week off. If they find it has not reduced the cancer at all, they will probably stop this treatment.
There are other treatments becoming available all the time. There is always full body radiation, which is not a desirable treatment, but an option down the line.
His back has been feeling better after the radiation. As long as he can manage the pain with heat and medication, he won't need any other treatment. If it gets too bad, he can have the plasty surgery, but we are hoping the cracked vertebrae will heal on it's own.
The doctor is very optimistic about his prognosis. Instead of the death sentence that accompanied this diagnosis just a few short years ago, there is a lot of hope. Geraldine Ferraro is one famous person who has been living with multiple myeloma for 10 to 12 years. She says that it is more of a chronic disease now which can be managed. Of course, this is not true of every person with this disease. There are a lot of factors involved. But we are thankful that Al was diagnosed early and was in such good health, with no other issues and got started with treatment before the disease did any damage to his kidneys or other vital organs.
Our goal, now, is to decrease the cancer as much as possible and then try to maintain quality of life. We have to be sure that the treatment is not worse than the disease. We also have to keep an eye on his vital organs, to be sure there is no issues that develop there. His kidneys are fine, but many others with this disease have had major problems in this area. So, they will be monitoring all his vital organs and the strength of his bones, which could be another area of great concern.
Al seems to be in such good health if you just take him at face value, but he will always have issues to deal with. Because he was in such good health (meaning no other health issues besides the cancer), he has tolerated all these treatments very well.
One issue that was addressed today was his anemia. He has continued to be easily tired. They gave him a shot of Arenest (not sure of the spelling) for that today. He had not gotten it before because you have to meet certain critria in order to receive it. I guess his numbers were down low enough and long enough to get it.
We give God all the praise and glory for the healing that has taken place, so far. We anticipate many years of extended good days to serve Him in whatever way He puts before us.


Rusty said...

Praise God for the good news! We will continue praying and thanking God for what He's doing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your faithfulness to keep us updated. I hope you know that we love you and continue to pray for you adn bring you before WBC women for prayer as well. Thanks for sharing the good news.