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Good News & Bad News?

Home/Good News & Bad News?

Good News & Bad News?

It is ironic that M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston would release their ground-breaking study results at the same time I would be facing a personal treatment decision directly related to that research. Thursday, my oncologist, Dr. Anderson, shared my blood work results with me. I was anxious to see him: It had been four months since we last met. The news from the lab was all good. My M-spike and other blood protein markers were all normal. Still no sign of cancer! However, Dr. Anderson did share with me his concern about my peripheral neuropathy, caused by my chemotherapy. I have now been using the chemotherapy drug, Revlimid, for 26 months. Dr. Anderson is worried some of the damage may become permanent if I continue using Revlimid each month. His recommendation: Stop using the drug and see what happens next. I should be excited about that, right? No more chemo for a while! Dr. Anderson told me about several patients he has worked with who went over two years after they stopped using Thalidomide before the cancer came back – that is longer than the average stem cell transplant patient goes without the cancer returning. Dr. Anderson has been gently prodding me to consider a stem cell transplant for some time. My primary contact from Mayo Clinic, Dr. Zeldenrust, has been out on indefinite medical leave for quite some time, so he hasn’t been available to me. But in a telephone consult with Dr. Anderson, another myeloma specialist from Mayo did concur that now would be a good time for a transplant. My strategy from the start has been to avoid undergoing a transplant for as long as possible, saving it as a last resort. So although I considered their advice at the time, I saw no reason to change my plan: Use Revlimid for as long as it was effective, switch to Velcade and then later use one of the second generation, new improved Revlimid-type drugs currently being tested so successfully in clinical trials. Friday, all of this changed! Read the journal article for yourself. It clearly shows compelling data that myeloma patients who undergo stem cell transplants, while in complete response (CR), have a median life expectancy over twice as long as patients who are in partial or very good partial response at the time of their transplants. WOW! Until now, most data showed little or no difference in survival rates between patients in VGPR and CR. I am still trying to wrap my head around this one. A long, lakeside walk on this beautiful summer evening might help! Tomorrow I will share my early thoughts/feelings/conclusions. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to do that yet tonight.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat