Friday, September 12, 2014

A Brief Update: September 2014

I'm taking a break from telling the story of my battle with Leukemia. I'd like to let you know what's going on today. 

The past 10 months have been pretty difficult for my family. But we've been blown away by the faithfulness of God manifested in our community. So I wanted to take a moment and thank you for traveling this journey with us. When you're hurt, or scared, or anxious, it makes a huge difference to know that others are standing with you, experiencing those same things. And we've felt that all along the way.

For those of you who have been walking this road with me, I want to let you know where things currently stand. So here goes...

Back in July, I finished my last of seven rounds of intensive chemotherapy in Houston. This was the same regimen I began back in November. I entered remission in December, after just one round of chemotherapy. But treating leukemia is difficult. Sending into remission is relatively easy; keeping it there is not. So the final six rounds are to "kick the cancer while it's down."

A bone marrow test in August showed that I am still in remission. There is no active cancer in my body. There is a very sensitive test they perform on my bone marrow called a "Real Time PCR" test. PCR stands for "polymerase chain reaction." They extract some marrow, and let it culture in a lab for a few days. If a certain protein is created, I have what is called "Minimal Residual Disease." In November, when I had active leukemia, this protein number would've been 100%. In December, it was 0.08%. In February, it was up to 0.19%. Then in May, 0.01%. Almost nothing. The goal was nothing.

This most recent PCR test showed the protein number to be 0.03%. So it isn't gone. Honestly, I was pretty bummed when I heard the news. This number means that I am probably more prone to relapse because that protein is present. It means that chemo wasn't completely successful to accomplish what we had hoped. This "minimal residual disease" does not necessarily mean my cancer will come back. But scientists have reason to believe that it means I am at an increased risk. This type of testing is all very new, and I'm fortunate to be a part of it.

Therefore, on Monday I'm beginning a new type of therapy. It's called "Maintenance Therapy," and it's basically a really light chemo dose still designed to chase down those last few cells that are creating the protein. I will be treated in Ruston, which is a blessing. A round is five days of treatment, an hour a day. I'll repeat that about every four weeks, up to 12 cycles. My doctors have told me that I will probably not notice any side effects. I'm hoping to work full time this year, which I'm really excited about.

Please continue to pray with me. I'm asking that God would completely heal me, that the protein number would be 0.00%. I'm trusting in His strength, in His wisdom, and in His goodness.

Also, please pray for Karen. I'm convinced that this journey has been much more difficult for her than it has been for me. She's an incredible wife, and an incredible mom. Pray for her strength and peace.

Finally, pray for our kids. I'm hoping that this whole ordeal is a tiny blip on the radar of their childhood memories. That they always remember a healthy dad who was present with them. May they see in their dad someone who lives by faith, and may that faith take root in their souls as well.

Feel free to use the comments section for any questions you may have. I'll do my best to answer what I can here.