Friday, June 02, 2006

Good news: Peter's a match

We got some very good news yesterday: my brother Peter is a match, meaning that he can be a donor of stem cells for the bone marrow transplant when it happens. (I held off announcing it here because he was in Stockholm on business, and I wanted to be able to tell him myself. He said “Yes!” triumphantly when I reached him this afternoon. I keep saying thank you, thank you, thank you.) The doctors all say this is fantastic, wonderful news, the best possible result, and certainly Anna and I feel the same way. I hadn’t dared to let myself hope, but Anna said she was certain of it all along.

This afternoon I had a lumbar puncture and intrathecal chemo—fifth in the series—performed by Sue, the Advanced Professional Nurse whose artistry I described in my last post. She did it again—the whole thing was over in 15 minutes, preceded by an hour of waiting for the anti-anxiety drugs to take effect and followed by an hour of waiting to be sure the chemo percolated through the spinal fluid. If the sample Sue drew today is as “perfectly clear” of leukemia cells as the two prvious samples, this will have been my mast lumbar puncture for a while. For that, too, I’m deeply grateful.

This morning I had my radiation treatment (9 down, 3 to go!) and we met with Dr. Dabaja, the radiologist. She’s a lovely woman, kind and caring an hard-working and extremely smart and competititive; she even thanked me for helping her overcome a fear of dogs that has been with her since a childhood experience when she and a group of young friends were chased through the streets by a pack of feral dogs. I asked her when she would want to do another MRI, to view the results of her raids on the tumors in my brain. She’ll want to wait till at least three weeks after the treatment ends (which would be June 28), but Dr. Giles wants to wait till three weeks after the systemic chome ends, to be sure that any possible inflammation caused by the chemo itself doesn’t cloud the picture and compromise the possibility of doig the transplant on an aggressive schedule. So that puts it somewhere in mid-July. Dana, the technician who’s actually been doing the treatments, announced this morning that today was her last day on this particular service; next week she moves to another service that works on breast cancer. She gave us great hugs. I’ll miss her.

So… we’ll be staying in Houston this weekend, coming home to Austin next Thursday. Judith and George are with us now (in fact they accompanied me to the lumbar puncture this afternoon, giving Anna a well-earned break from taking me to clinic after clinic along with all the other things she’s doing to make this as pleasant an experience as it can be—but she wouldn’t leave until she’[d made me promise that I would insist on having Sue do the lumbar puncture!). Peg is coming tomorrow, and I think Bill is going to drop by on Monday[[ he’s been in Houston on business, and will have a little time before he goes back.

We’ve continued to receive cards, emails, calls, and flowers. We feel so loved, so supported. It feels truly wonderful.

On a somehow-related note: the other night we hooked up a pair of speakers to my laptop, and I plugged in the 80 GB portable drive I’d bought to carry music back and forth. Windows detected the drive right away, and it also found the first playlist in the My Music folder—Anna’s Funky Playlist, which I’d burned for her a year or two ago in preparation for some party. The CD I burned from that play list had never worked, but now the music came up loud and funky and completely unexpected. Anna and Diane broke out dancing, and I sat on the couch doing DJ duty.

More soon. We’ll need some help when we’re back in Austin, especially the week of the 12th (when I’ll be doing heavy chemo twice a day) and the following week, when my counts will be dropping—Anna has to go out of town that week to complete some work that a client paid for in advance. I think she’ll post details to the “Leukemia Diaries” list, so look for it there.

Thanks again to all of you for all your love and support and prayers and good wishes. Thanks especially to those of you who went last Thursday to contribute a tissue sample to the Bone Marrow Registry that Vicki Almstrum organized, which will be followed by other drives in other places around the country. I’m fortunate indeed to have found a match in my own brother, but others may not be so lucky, and the cells you contributed last week may yet save a life. Much love from all of us to all of you.


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