Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Doing Shots

I realized this morning that I have been a bit remiss in my blogging, so here is an update. Actually, there are several little things to report - none of which (hopefully) is of major consequence.

I am happy to report that I continue to feel pretty good with only minimal discomfort. But then I always feel pretty good on days when I take Dexamethasone. Better living through chemistry.

Last week I finished my first complete round of the new chemo regime. I am getting this chemo in Hookset NH which is 65 minutes away from our home, so that is a bit easier than going to Boston for treatment.

BUT - we went to Dana Farber last Wednesday for a visit to the head MM oncologist and lots of blood tests. (The "exsanguinator" removed 14 vials.) And the results were very good. Apparently, I responded extremely well to this particular chemo cocktail and the doctors seemed very excited. Now, to be clear, this does not necessarily mean that the chemo will put the cancer into remission - only that it knocked out a bunch of the "bad guys". It could have left a few "really bad guys" who will now become more prevalent. Still, this is a very pleasing result and the doctors are hopeful that this chemo approach will get me into remission enough for them to do an autologous stem cell transplant.

Also last week, I spent an hour and a half in an MRI machine so that they could take another look at my spine. They wanted to compare this with the one they did at the end of October. They did find additional spinal deterioration which is not good, but it might not be all that bad either. This could have happened soon after the first MRI - which would have been before I even started chemo. This would not be unexpected. On the other hand, if it happened last week, it would be bad news, and there is no way to tell. My personal assessment is that since my back feels as good as it has since my diagnosis, they are seeing old damage.

Even so, they want me to talk to someone about possibly getting radiation treatment to knock the myeloma blobs ("blob" is not an official medical term) out of the bones in my spine so we will meet with this guy on Friday. I will let you know what he says.

My brother is visiting and he took me to Hookset yesterday for "Day 1 Chemo" of round 2. I got the Velcade, but the doctor there said that my white blood count was too low for me to get the Cytoxan. Again, this is not great, but probably not a disaster either. The doctor hopes that by giving me something to stimulate white cell production, we can get get the white cells up high enough for the cytoxan by Friday. He told me I would be giving myself shots of Nuepogen.

You may be aware that I have been avoiding booze since I started the first chemo back in November or so, so I was quite happy with the idea getting to do some shots. Unfortunately the nurse showed up with a hypodermic said it was today's shot of Neupogen. Apparently there is no vodka involved. They expected me to stick a needle into myself. Well, I did manage it yesterday. It is nice to know that there actually is a use for that roll of flab that I have been carrying around my middle for the last 20 years. ("Flab" is not an official medical term.)


  1. Warren - it's so good to see your sense of humor! I recommend that you think of the shots as simply vodka by IV, taken in the spirit of a game of Fat Man. And, by that, I am NOT implying anything about your middle!!

  2. You continue to amuse me with your writing as well as your great attitude. Since I have experienced this with my sister, what you have written is normal as they go through the process with the ups and downs and the white blood cells, etc.

    Obviously, something is working and I believe it is old damage they are seeing.

    The fact that the stem cell is back in the picture is terrific news.

    I continue to pray for you and Barbara and give you some of my energy.

    Hugs, Joan