Thursday, May 28, 2009

Contest #4.....and some light reading!

So we come to the end of another month, another school year, and the beginning of another summer! All in all, it hasn't gone too bad. I feel good, take my meds and don't let the disease interfere with my everyday life. Whenever you want to know more about CML, Leukemia, or Bone Marrow donation, here are some links you can browse at your leisure.

and here is caption contest #4!!!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remember, Thou art mortal.

Sad news this week. An old college roommate, Bob Honacher, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. He was 32. This is the second of my former roommates to die of a brain disorder. Shawn Wampler, from Bethel Park, died of brain cancer in 2007. He was 34 at the time. Just goes to show you, make the most of your time!

I am getting a little anxious about next week. I go for a blood test for the first time in a month. I feel pretty good, but you never know. Trust me, when I find out you shall be first to know. Have a good weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why not transplant now? Contest #3!

A friend of mine was recently asking about my treatment and why they don't just do a transplant now, seeing how it is the only definitive cure. Good question! The reason is two fold....

1. Even though the a BMT (Bone Marrow Transplant) is the only proven cure, it is not a guarantee. I don't know the exact statistics, but it seems like more than half the people who get a BMT have some type of relapse. In other words, they still have the disease.

2. Even at its most optimistic, the one year survival rate of a BMT in Chronic phase (my phase) is about 60%. If I have a progression of the disease, one year survival after a BMT can drop to as low as 20%. Maybe Natalie and Umberto can explain all the various pitfalls of BMT.

So as you can plainly see, I have a much better chance of surviving with medication than with a BMT. Plus, the cost of transplantation are very high considering all the genetic typing, radiation, harvesting of cells, and post operative treatment.

To show how far medicine has come, my oncologist told me that just 15 years ago, the ONLY treatment for CML was BMT. Now there are three medications out there that work. Hope this helps.

Ok, here is picture number three for the Caption contest!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Caption contest number 2!

Our first contest brought about everything I was looking for...laughter, some tears, many smiles and some fond memories. It shows that the human spirit can triumph over the most dire of circumstances. You know of what I speak. Thats right. The Penguins being down 2-0 to the Capitals. So in honor of the three co-winners of the first contest (Dr. Natalie, Dr. Umberto, and Myself) here is the next photo....Caption away!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I was hungry when I wrote this.

Today I received good news about my PCR. My PCR went from 31% to 18%. PCR measures the ratio of good protein (ABL) to bad protein (BCR-ABL) in my blood. The BCR-ABL protein tells my body to make all these bad white blood cells. The PCR test is a much more accurate measurement of how the medication is working to destroy the leukemic cells in my body. I know, I know I can hear all the screams now...
"But Mr. Thornburg, why did you tell us that your white blood cell count was the way to measure your disease earlier?"

Sometimes, adults must not divulge all the information to children like yourself. The truth is that the extra white blood cells were only the by product of my bad bone marrow. The root of the problem is this mutated protein (BCR-ABL) that is flowing through my blood. It is this protein that must be eradicated. Once the protein is gone, the bad white blood cells will be gone.

Imagine you walk into your kitchen and see thousands of ants (which represent white blood cells) just going to town on your double decker german chocolate cake (which represents your body, no laughs please). You can take your shoe and just crush those little buggers till your hearts content. But they will return as you have not dealt with the source of the problem, the Queens (BCR-ABL) which make those critters and send them out to devour your cake. Once you get rid of the queens (BCR-ABL), the little ants (white blood cells) will go away. Understand now? Good. I need a snack.