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.


  1. In regards to Gleevec not "curing" CML, I think the medical community is being conservative by saying that it isn't a cure. The drug is less than 10 years old, but there are certainly a good proportion of individuals without detectable disease after 10 years on the therapy. It is just that it is difficult to prove a negative, and perhaps with time it may be concluded that these types of therapies might allow people to live disease free for multiple decades.

  2. That's good news! The web site Joe linked about the disease is not as optimistic.

  3. I am out here on the edges looking in. Have never read a blog- knew a blog or been a blog so once again it is never too late to learn.
    I can attest to the Allopurinol helping with gout and isn't that a family thing?
    Go for the Powerball Joe- sounds like your odds are just about right!!! WIll keep you in my thoughts- and yes even my prayers!!!
    Su (zanne)