November Update from Brad

It’s about time for a quick update on my medical situation, which I hope will be my last for a long while. I had been planning to  have a second corneal transplant (in my right eye this time) in October, but some low white blood cell counts made that inadvisable; it would have been elective surgery, in any event, and my eye doctor felt it would be better to wait till my immune system was more robust, which probably pushes the earliest date for this procedure into 2018. More worrying was the fact that my white blood cell counts had been steadily declining for a few months, and thus my oncologist wanted to see if there was an obvious reason for that phenomenon. I therefore had yet another PET scan (we’ve lost count, but reckon it was my tenth) and another bone marrow biopsy (my second, and I hope my last, since they really hurt). Neither showed any signs of recurrent lymphoma (B-cell or T-cell), nor any other indications of something sinister brewing. They ruled out lymphoma after the scan, and the biopsy revealed nothing resembling leukemia, which was certainly good news. There was no clear indication of what caused the dip in my WBC counts, which may have contributed to the very bad stomach upset on Hallowe’en (it felt like food poisoning to me) that sent me to the hospital for a couple of nights. After some neupogen (a drug which, when injected, boosts white blood cell production), my WBC counts have stabilized somewhat, though they remain a little below normal, and it seems that there is no cause for concern for the time being. Needless to say, I am relieved that this episode seems to be over; I have been lying low in recent weeks, in part to minimize risk to my immune system, and in part to brace for potentially very bad news that, thankfully, never came. I am eager to resume normal activities, such as they are in my very different post-transplant life, and am looking forward to a reasonably calm and pleasant holiday season. So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone; in case of scarcity, you can add an extra dose of gratitude to the mix on my behalf.

3 thoughts on “November Update from Brad

  1. My husband lost the long battle with NH Lymphoma. He first acquired it in 1975, had chemo and was okay until 2009 when doctors found Myelo Dysplasia Syndrome. This is a disease where prior trauma to the bone marrow causes a late effect where marrow becomes non functional,
    does not produce platelets, white blood cells, red blood cells.
    In my husband’s case, they found his brother had a great match, so he donated his stem cells to my husband for a transplant.
    All was going well until 7 months later he developed Graph Versus Host Disease. The body rejected the stem cells that were donated. He became seriously ill and died.
    My advice to anyone having lymphoma is to have some of your stem cells extracted and frozen for possible future use. If we had done this in the years between his first episode of the disease and 2009, he would not have had to find other stem cells. The body would not have rejected his own cells, and he would not have succombed to Graph Versus Host Disease.
    I try and tell everyone that has had lyjmphoma to do this. Extracting stem cells from your own blood is very easy. Almost like just giving blood. They remove the stem cells and return the blood back to you; then they freeze the stem cells. You may never need them, but if you have them, it is an insurance against possibly losing your life. I wish we had done this. No one told us about the possibility. And once you have Myelo Dysplasia, you cannot retrieve healthy stem cells.
    Please take note! And good luck in the future.


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