Monday, February 13, 2012

Once Again; the Chemo is Working!

The results of a new PET/CT scan came back on Friday. The results are good.

A couple of the five new lytic lesions we found in September have left the stadium -- the one one left shoulder blade and the one on my third rib - right in front of my heart -- have shut down/gone away. The other three are still around. The main troublemaker at the base of my spine -- responsible for having caused serious nerve damage inside my sacrum -- has reduced in size a tiny bit and the 'heat map' reading done by the PET is now showing the tumor there is back down to the activity levels of regular body tissue.

Blood Chemistry is Good
The best news is that all of my blood chemistry shows that multiple myeloma has, pretty much, stopped. The troublesome volume of Kappa Free Light Chain antibody cells in my blood stream has settled back down into the normal range. Those come from the myeloma itself as it causes my body to mass produce those cells; and that was the primary indicator of malignant activity going into this cycle of treatment. It is a very key indicator and it is showing really good results.

On the Flip Side
There are a few things that are still problematic. A couple of my vertebrae showed up in September (T08 and T10) with those lytic lesions. Well; those have doubled in size. Both are now about an inch across. There's a new spot on my skull that wasn't noticed earlier; so that might be new. The radiologist reinforced that the new images confirm what was mentioned in the last scan -- that my sacrum is fractured along the front left side. Dr G didn't comment on that when she reviewed the notes with me. I guess I need to ask about that next week... but I guess we will not be talking about putting my behind in a sling  :- ) 

So Call  it Partial Remission
In sum; the chemo is working pretty well. I am certainly back into remission. But it doesn't seem like the 'Complete Remission' that is considered the gold standard. So we'll call it 'Partial Remission'.

What Else? Oh, my Healthcare Team...
The gang at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey still keep me for at least three hours twice a week. And it makes no difference if I am there for a single injection or a full set of four meds and a complete blood chemistry workup. The nurse assigned to tend to my appointments, drug orders, prescription processing and liaison between me and the CINJ seems overtasked and underskilled to the assignment. Maybe if she would work with the staff nurses, then she'd be able to get me the benefits of having a team effort. Well, I can hope, can't I?

What More Can We Do
Tuesday, I'll get the last injection of Velcade (bortezimib) of my fourth cycle of this VRD protocol. {VRD stands for Velcade | Revlimid | Decadron - the three main drugs I am receiving}

Dr G said on Friday that she recommends I complete the six twenty-one day cycles we originally planned. Then she wants me to  switch over to just the Revlimid with supplemental Zometa (zoledronic acid) to keep the remission rolling. That all sounds about like what I expected from the start back in December.

Next Up
Right now it looks like I am still on track to complete this entire treatment protocol before my brother Steve's birthday on the 13th of April. That is also the date of my 'Second Birthday' -- the day 6 years ago I had my Blood Stem Cell Transplant and pushed multiple myeloma into remission the first time.

What I am doing about Nutrition & What side effects I experience will be coming up in my next post. Now that I'm most of the way through four of the six cycles, I can sort of recognize the pattern of effects I have been experiencing. And I have not gone head over heels for any specific diet, but I have changed things up a little bit. I'll let you in on what that means next time. Until then...

That's all I have to say about that; for now.
- Mark

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