Wednesday, January 25, 2012

day 1 of the final treatment cycle...Maintenance

where to start???? I guess the best way to say it is that, Each day IS a gift. When I look back at the last year now, it seems like it flew by. I spent almost half of the year at City of Hope getting the treatment required in order to get to this day. I'm so thankful that the cancer has stayed in remission throughout the year. There were some really big bumps in the road along the way and the last three months of 2011 really brought some true tests of faith. 

I was taken off of the study program by my doctor in the month of December for the following reasons. I had been taken off of one of the chemotherapy drugs that was being studied earlier this year and then in order to continue on the study for the full 3 years, I would be required to have radiation therapy on my brain. Leukemia can lead to brain cancer and I have never had any cancer cells found in my spinal fluid. Just so you can understand, when I have chemo in my Omaya Port, spinal fluid has to be removed and then the exact amount that is removed is replaced with the chemo drug. (This way it keeps the common side effect of a headache from occurring because of too much pressure.) Then the fluid that was removed is sent to the lab for testing. My doctor felt as though the possible benefits of the radiation was not worth the risks. Radiation is a part of this study because they want to have the best chance of protecting the brain in the very young children diagnosed with leukemia but she doesn't feel as though for the long term it would be good for me because I am so close to the cut off age of A.L.L. childhood leukemia treatment which is 30 years old. It doesn't really change the path of my treatment. It just means that my case will no longer be followed by the study guru's for the benefit of other and research. 

Today, I started Maintenance Therapy. This will last for at least the next 2 years. The schedule is basically every 30 days I will go to COH for one IV chemo drug call Vincristine and go for labs every 2 weeks. I will be taking my chemo now in pill form, that drug is called 6mp or Mercaptopurine everyday, Methotrexate every 7 days and steroids the first 5 days of every 30 day cycle, along with the other 7 daily pills have been on to protect my immune system and liver. PILLS and a lot of them. This is going to be better but I have to admit, not easy. Keeping the chemo in my body is a must and it will be the thing that keeps me from relapsing and having to have a bone marrow transplant, which is what is done if when the chemo fails and the cancer comes back. YIKES! Like everyone, taking pills is not what I do very well and especially when I feel good. So this is going to be a new path and I will have to think about taking good care of myself because as long as I do my part, the rest is in God's hands. As my doctor said if I take this seriously and take my pills everyday and I do relapse, I will at least know that I did everything I could by making my health priority.

I am feeling good, my hair is growing back, I actually have my beard back and I might even celebrate by letting it grow for the whole year to make up for the year I haven't had any. Only true friends, hang out with chemo, bald headed guys. God has blessed me with TRUE friends. I am looking forward to starting my life again. Beginning to dream about what I want to do when I grow up, a much more relaxed and minimal schedule with the COH. Once my medications are dialed in, I can start working again and start building my life. Mom, of course will be right beside me and I will stay living here with her through this leg of the journey. 

As a side note, I want to say thanks for your continued encouragement, even though I haven't been keeping you up on this blog. There never seemed to be enough information or time to type it in. Please now pray for a daily reminder to take my pills, to take care of myself and to keep fighting this fight.

Strong in Faith...
keep in touch...

Here are my starting numbers for 2012...
WBC: 4.4
RBC: 4.14
ANC: 2.3
Hemoglobin: 13.0
Platelet: 266