Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Multiple Myeloma update

We just returned from a month-long trip by car to New York State and back--will post more about that later with pictures. Friday as we left Branson to start our journey home we stopped in Springfield, Missouri at Labcorp for Frank's monthly blood draw to check various aspects of his disease. His appointment was Monday and it takes a few days for the results to be sent to the doctor's office in Mesa, AZ. The doctor said that while his various values weren't bad, they weren't that good either--his white count has continued to slowly drop again and his platelets as well. Not good. Frank asked him if he is still in the smoldering myeloma stage or if it is active. The doctor explained that its a little of both. His kidneys and bones haven't been affected yet but he has over 50% malignant cells in his bone marrow which are crowding out the good cells--especially the platelets and white cells. He said Frank could start on the chemotherapy if he wanted (which would destroy malignant cells with lots of nasty side effects [including destroying his immune system]), or if not, continue on the supplements I have been giving him. For now we will continue on the supplements. I am researching and deciding where I can tweak dosages, etc.
He had another phlebotomy to remove a pint of blood in order to keep the iron level in his blood in control (because of hemachromatosis, a common blood disease). Cancer loves iron.

If Frank felt terrible, we would be more concerned, but he has felt good the entire month we were gone, not getting sick or requiring any antibiotics. A couple of times when he started getting a sore throat or chest congestion I had him gargle with salt water or take Echinacea, Proligna (a pinecone extract) and L-lysine and they worked like a charm (they are all immune system boosters). He will have a CBC and Ferritin level (iron) check in two weeks and then all the rest before his next appt. in a month.

The following are some of his worrisome low lab values:
RBC (Red Blood Count)--carries oxygen to cells throughout body. Normal range:4.10 to 5.60. His: 3.46 (down from 4.14 in February)
WBC (White Blood Count)--the body's defense system against infection. Normal range: 4-10.5. His: 2.4 (down from 2.8. In April it was at 4.1--higher than it had been in 10 years.) He is at greater risk for infection and tries to avoid sick people and crowds.
Neutrophil%--A type of white blood cell. Normal range: 40-74%. His: 38%(down from 48%). Some cancers may cause a decrease in the body’s ability to form normal new neutrophils. People with neutropenia (low neutrophil count) have a low number of these white blood cells, so it is harder for their bodies to fight infection.
Platelets They are formed in the bone marrow and cause the blood to clot. Normal range 140-415. His: 109 (down from 141 in March).The platelet count may decrease if the bone marrow does not produce enough platelets. Blood cancers and a variety of other bone marrow disorders can have this effect. Several of the anti-cancer supplements he is taking have an anticoagulant effect (including Curcumin) and since he is not bruising easily or bleeding abnormally, the doctor didn't seem overly concerned. Better too low than high and be at risk of heart attack/stroke!

These values all flucuate month to month so we just pray that that the change isn't too drastic.


Becky and the Boys said...

Hang in there - I can't imagine!

Kristal and Jason said...

I'm glad dad is feeling good and didn't get sick around all those people in NY. Hopefully next month looks better.

Bloggin It said...

Dawna - Your family is VERY blessed to have you looking after them! We'll keep them all in our prayers! :)

Skousen Seven said...

Dad looks so good!! Hopefully the regime will kick in again!! Glad you got home safe and sound!!!!

Matt n Jessica said...

Well glad that Frank was feeling good despite some of the "worrisome" lab results you spoke of. We continue to keep him and you as well in our prayers! Hope to see some of the vaca pics soon too!