Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quick update and caption contest....

So my Oncologist called me today and told me I can stop taking my gout/kidney stone medication. That is good news.

I have a new thing we will try for awhile....add a caption to the photo!!!! Simply use the comment section to add a humorous/insightful/or otherwise clever caption for each photo posted. I will re use the one from yesterday and you shall get about one a week. Ready? GO!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

A nameless face in a faceless world.

Ok, that has NO bearing whatsoever on Leukemia or anything in my life right now. I just wanted to sound deep and disturbed, like a true artist.

I went to the Doc's today and he was extremely pleased with the drop in my WBC. He said the blip up could be anything from exposure to a virus to allergies and any other number of things. He took my bloodwork down to once a month and will see me in six months! That is great for me, but bad for this blog. So I am now in the process of deciding on what to put in there to keep you entertained. Any suggestions would be nice. I can regale you with tales of my youth, develop some subplots (like a good mureder/mystery novel), or just post various random crap on here. So lets start with random stuff. Enjoy the pic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Guess my line!

Ok so today you will have a choice of three. One of the statements is true about today's blood count. The other two are false.

1. WBC dropped slightly to 16,400. However the hemoglobin and red blood cells continue to rise toward normal and are the highest since my dx (diagnosis).

2. My WBC went down to almost zero, thereby making me vulnerable to even the most innocuous pathogens. I was transported by a helicopter to Pittsburgh and now live in my own protective chamber. I am now officially the new "Bubble Boy."

3. My WBC skyrocketed to over 1,000,000 and I am now in the Guinness Book of World Records for "Hottest guy with a WBC over 1,000,000." In addition, Brian Williams of NBC News called me to put me tomorrows broadcast because of all the humanitarian work I have done over the years...mainly letting Cory Darr get a few points in basketball from time to time and for putting up with an almost-as-smart-as-me-but-bookworm-sister-who-married-a-cool-but-non-dancing-Latino.

Take your time. There is no retest and this will not be graded on a curve.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hmmmm, that's interesting.

Well, what would a good blog be without something to triumph over? My WBC jumped to 16,800 today. There are any number of reasons that can cause this so no need to get worried yet. I have been feeling a little worse lately and am experiencing some of the symptoms I did before. I don't know whether it is mental or physical. I shall let you know what happens with my next count. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Close, but no cigar...yet

Today the WBC was 13,900. Only a drop of 4%, but still a drop. On the plus side, my red blood cells are almost normal at 4,400 (normal is 4,700-7,000) and hemoglobin was at 11,800 (14,000-18,000 is normal). Keep in mind, they want me in normal range in 3 to 6 months and I have only been on the meds since March 13th. Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Unforgettable, in every way.

So today my WBC was 14,500. Its getting closer to normal. My Hemoglobin and Red Blood Cells were also down, so I am a little tired.

So when I got my results last thursday, the lady who got my results looks at my file and says "Oh! I remember your blood! You were in pretty bad shape!" Kind of strange how lab workers relate to people. I am now the person with really really bad blood to her. During our conversation, she said that my blood was so bad, she had to "cut" it (I guess with a thinning agent) at a ratio of 4:1 to get the machine to be able to count my WBC. She also said that it was probably the worst she can recall of at that time. Woo hoo! She seemed kind of surprised that I was up and about and able to function quite normally and even more surprised at the drastic reduction in one month. I just told her my dashing good looks and charming personality were helping in the treatment of the disease.

On a related note, I have had more than a few people comment on how its wonderful that my personality has been unchanged and how good I look. One person even said I was an inspiration and they want to know how I do it. So now, as a gift to you all, I will tell you how you can look and be like me. Ready?

You can't. My superior genetic make up is to blame for my awesome rock star persona, swimmers build, and strikingly beautiful face (think Brad Pitt, only taller.) So you are all out of luck. However, you are all lucky not to be me. Its not a barrel of monkeys living my life. For instance, you can all feel sorry for me because of the nasty side effects I experienced today....I was tired and took a nice nap, and my pinkie toe aches a little bit. Woe is me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Anyone can comment now.

Ok, so no updates. I have received many letters, emails, and comments that basically say "I want to comment on your awesome blog, but don't know how." Well, now anyone can post comments without having to register for anything. Here is how:
*Simply click on the "Comments" link under any entry and enter your post
*When you are done, click on the "Comment as" box under the entry and select either "Name/URL" or "Annonymous" (they are at the bottom of the pop up list)
*Thats it! Post till your little hearts are content. If you are going to say something mean, please be courteous and sign it so I know who to leave out of my will.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

And for Easter....

WBC on thursday was 21,000. Very nice drop. I must go clean my room now since we all know that the Easter Bunny does not leave full easter baskets at houses with messy rooms. And if Honey Bear (wife) doesn't get her chocolate, its not going to be pretty around the house.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Pancreas...

Some of you might reacall how happy I was with my glucose (blood sugar) leves in "There Will be Blood." My levels are always normal, so for now I am not diabetic. In order to pay homage to the proper organ, here is a song heralding the "Biggest Little Organ in the Human Body."


When I Find myself in times of trouble, Mother Gleevec comforts me...

Today I received a call from my hematologist with some great news. My WBC is now down to 30,000! Plus, my Red Blood Cells (RBC) and hemoglobin (HGB) are inching higher toward the normal range. Leukemia produces millions of white blood cells and they crowd out all the other good cells, thereby making you anemic. I should have known someting was wrong because during basketball, I could barely make it up and down the floor 3 times without gasping for air. In my prime, I was good for at least 4 trips, 5 on a good day.

I also received a second opinion yesterday, well actually two. The first was from another hematologist at UPMC. He said I was being treated exactly how I should and he would do the same thing. The other was from a friend who I shall call JI. JI texted me yesterday and said (edited for content)..."I have your second opinion. You are still an A**hole." Nice.

I am nowhere near out of the woods yet. The reduction in my WBC is great, but it could turn later on down the road. However, it has restored one thing that I have lacked since March 10th at 4:10 PM...HOPE!! Thanks to all who talk to me about it, pray for me, write here, etc... It helps a lot. However, my hematologist suggested each of you donate one paycheck a month to me. Seems a new study has suggested that a sudden onset of monetary wealth brings about remission much quicker. Barring that, I will still accept prayers, good luck wishes, etc...

Peace for now

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I like.

WBC for friday was 67,000. I like those results! Don't have much more for you all now. My NCAA brackets are destroyed and I heard gleeful cheering from the Nashville area last night, so I am melancholy/tired.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In english please!

Ok, so here is the scoop about Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in my own words. My sister (Natalie), who works with a great Hematologist/Oncologist, can verify these in the comments section. For fun, I have put two "facts" in there that are not entirely true. See if you can guess which ones they are.

*For simplicities sake, there are two main types of Leukemia. Acute and Chronic. There are many other subtypes. I have a form of Chronic Leukemia. Myelogenous refers to the type of cells involved. Dr. Natalie can explain more in the comments section.

*Chronic Leukemias are slow growing and are usually fatal in terms of years. Acute Leukemias are very fast and usually become fatal in months rather than years

*There are three phase of my type (CML): Chronic (beginning), Aggressive, Blast Crisis (Bad). They believe I am in the Chronic phase.

*Left untreated, it would take 3-5 years for me to progress to the Blast Crisis phase.

*I take two pills a day for treatment. One is targeted cancer therapy (Gleevec). The other (Allopurinol) is to prevent gout and kidney stones from forming, which are side effects of Gleevec.

*I have blood drawn twice a week to monitor the medication's effectiveness.

*In order to insure proper absorption of the Gleevec, they recommend you take it with a big glass of Chianti and 12 chicken wings.

*Gleevec can put CML into remission for a long time (many years), but will never cure it. The only cure is a bone marrow/stem cell transplant.

*Gleevec has many of the same side effects as chemotherapy, but not as pronounced.

*I can live a normal life and am not prone to severe infections at this stage.

*My form is very rare. Only about 4,800 new cases are diagnosed each year. Of those, only 15% are people under 40 ( I guess I should start playing powerball!).

*It only affects the most intelligent and best looking people on God's green earth.

*Besides Gleevec, there are two other approved medications which work for CML. They are Sprycel and Tasigna.

*Chemotherapy and radiation are very ineffective for CML, so they are not a treatment option.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A history of things to come

So the question begs, how does Leukemia affect you? Leukemia, left untreated, will cause (among a host of other maladies) massive weight loss, a paling of the skin, and a lethargic, dopey look. The picture below demonstrates this.....

I am on the left. Look at me. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. Nicey bronzed. Happier than a thirsy kitten chasing a leaky cow. The girl in the middle represents Leukemia. The person on the right represents me after a few years of untreated Leukemia. Gaunt, pale, lazy. This poor guy just spent a whole week in the North Carolina sun and that is the best he can look. I don't want that for me. Please, whoever is listening, if I ever get like that, just pull the plug.

****Disclaimer*** The photo above is fictional. Any resemblance to any person alive or not is purely coincidental. The person on the right is NOT Pete.

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Well even better news today. My White Blood Cell count has gone down to 117,00. Guess the medicine is working! On a lighter note, I want this to be entertaining and educational. So you have had enough about me weeping and all that crap. Now two little stories that are funny now...

1. I went to my friend Jamie's house for the AFC Championship game in mid January. I wore one of those Steelers "Skull Cap" that look like a swim cap. When I walked in, he just started laughing and said "You look like a d*mn cancer patient undergoing chemo!" Little did we know then.

2. I have a "complaining" buddy. No names. I will just call him BZ. We complain to each other all the time about various ills in our lives (politics, money, illness, etc...). Most of the winter, I was complaining about being tired. In order to stress to him how tired I was, I liked to quote Old Man River. You know the verse...

I gets weary, and sick of tryin'
I'm tired of livin', and scared of dyin'

Lets just say I have retired that saying for a while.