This is a good Monday morning.
It’s been no secret that for the past eight months I’ve battled cancer for the third time. I’ve not written about it much except when there have been milestones.
This past Friday was one of those milestones. My oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Dr. Jakub Svoboda announced that my (PET) cancer scan was clear. Although there still remains a stubborn 1 centimeter in size lymph node in my abdomen that continues to show abnormal activity, my oncologist assured me that he’s seen it before and not to worry.
So, it’s over.
Apparently the stem cell transplant procedure I underwent in the months of August and September, which essentially reset the biological mechanisms of my bone marrow, is working. I’ve completed the 90-day post procedure “recovery” period successfully. However, there still remains one issue regarding the transplant. My white blood cell count, the stuff that fuels your body’s immune system, is much lower than the doctors would like to see. The doctors tell me they would like to see a baseline number of 1000. A number between 500-1000 is acceptable, but not satisfactory. My number on Friday was 240. Ugh!
This means I’m neutropenic. That’s the medical terminology for not having a properly functioning immune system. It happens often with cancer patients. It means I have to wear a mask in public, I can’t eat any fresh fruit or vegetables for fear they’ve not been washed properly and any food borne illness would be impossible for my body to defend against — that’s bad news. I also have to stay away from large public gatherings, I can’t fly on airplanes, I have to wash my hands all the time, I need to stay away from sick people and essentially become a recluse until my body’s immune system is back to normal.
I’m taking injections of a drug called Neupogen. It stimulates the growth of white blood cells. My Christmas plans were to include a trip to North Carolina. For the next few days, those plans are on hold while I’m praying my body reacts to the Neupogen and supplies me with the necessary amount of white blood cells. The good news here is that this stuff has worked in the past.
Nevertheless, all this white blood cell stuff is but a bump in the road. It will get fixed. The good news is my non-Hodgkins lymphoma is gone — hopefully for good. It’s one of those cancers that you just never know. The specter of its existence remains an ever present bogey man in my life.
So, it’s time to move on with my life. There’s a new year just around the corner. I’ve got many different plans in the works, all of which have been on hold for the past eight months. I’m anxious to move forward without carrying the baggage of cancer and its dreadful treatments.
And I know I said I wouldn’t turn this blog into some kind of cancer diary, so please forgive me for all the medical stuff.
One more thing. I am truly a blessed man. I’ve been given the opportunity to continue with life. For this, I will always be thankful to my family, my medical team and most of all, God.
Thanks for stopping by.