Day +252: Why worry?

“There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now?
Why worry now?”

My hematologist visit went well on August 3. My blood counts were very good:

WBC: 5000 (norm 4500-10500)
Granulocytes (~ANC): 3000 (norm 1400-6500)
Platelets: 276 (norm 150-450)
RBC: 4.04 (norm 4.00-6.00)
HGB (hemoglobin): 14.4 (norm 11.0-18.0)
HCT (hematocrit): 41.7 (norm 35.0-60.0)

The doctor also examined a small pea-sized lump I discovered in my right breast recently. Much to our relief, he told us malignant lumps have a distinctive feel to them and this lump felt nothing like that. He ordered an ultrasound to check it further and assured me we will monitor closely for changes. I had the ultrasound on August 8. The tech said I was very “bumpy” and consulted with the radiologist. They suspected either a small infection or a calcification so did a mammogram for more information. The radiologist looked at the results immediately and advised me the mammogram clearly showed calcifications which were matched to my prior mammogram from October and a small calcified fibroadenoma. This particular type is always benign, and neither a biopsy nor lumpectomy is needed. Ordinarily, they’d just track it on my regular annual mammogram but because of my bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy, the radiologist recommended a 6-month follow-up, choosing to “err on the side of caution.” Another sigh of relief.

I’m contemplating enrolling in a National Cancer Institute study at NIH, Clinical Evaluations and Laboratory Studies in Patients With Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease Who Have Undergone a Previous Donor Stem Cell Transplant. The purpose of the study is to gather information about patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease who have undergone a previous donor stem cell [or bone marrow] transplant to help doctors learn more about the disease and find better methods of treatment and on-going care. New slots open in October, and the PI (principal investigator), Dr. Pavletic, thinks I’d be an ideal candidate. I would go to NIH in Bethesda, MD for four days of comprehensive testing and consultations to assess my GvHD. Results would be used for the study and also forwarded to my doctors. Periodic follow-up interviews would be done via telephone or internet. It seems like a great opportunity to help others as well as to obtain another opinion regarding my variety of mild cGVHD symptoms.

This evening, I attended a Look Good, Feel Better class offered by the Cancer Society. I was the only blood cancer patient – my five classmates and the instructor were all breast cancer patients. I don’t wear much makeup, so the class material wasn’t especially useful (although I did get a lipstick and eyebrow pencil I’ll probably use). However, it was interesting meeting the other women and enlightening as well as touching to hear their stories. Also, the range of stages at diagnosis and the variety in age and ethnicity of the women served as a good reminder for all women to do monthly self-examinations and to get annual mammograms. Both can make a big difference!

That’s all the news for now. We hope everyone is having a great summer!

Day +241 tagline: Hair, The Cowsills (IDed by Chris and Cathy)


  1. Hey Karen!

    Super news on those counts (and the lump).

    You know that I think highly of those folks at NIH, so the trial certainly sounds great. I also get the feeling that we need a lot more data on GVHD, so it would be a real service. (Just get your local doc to do the bone marrows, unless, since it’s an NCI trial, you can get this massive African American member of the Commissioned Corp named “George.” He uses the drill and seems very good at the procedure.)

    I know this song! I can even hear it in my head, but I can’t place it . . .

    Just checked my iTunes. I don’t have the original in my digital collection (I have it on vinyl!), but I have a great version with Emmylou Harris on vocals. Have you heard that one? It’s on a CD of duets called “Real Live Roadrunning.”

    I won’t give away yhe song name or the duet partner, so that someone with a better memory than me can nail this one without cheating.

    Take Care!


  2. By the way, If you check out the cuts on Real Live Roadrunning, listen to Boulder to Birmingham, but only if you have a box of tissues handy.

    Emmylou Harris’ voice is the very definition of heartache.


  3. I am glad to hear the good news. Glad you keep improving. I think the study would be perfect for you. You would be a great candidate. You are very knowledgeable on the research and have been keeping great records of your progress.

    I am not sure how many people read all these post but you and Mike. I think if someone were doing the lyrics, they would do it before reading the post by other people. And if they are checking our post first to get the answer, then they are cheating anyways. Of course they may just be seeing what we are saying to you. So sorry for ruining the game. But I really don’t want you to think no one wants to play the game. And I really don’t think I would post twice, so here is my answer. (With looking it up. Maybe I will get lucky someday.) Dire Straits-Why Worry. Written by Mark Knopfler. 🙂

  4. Great news Karen! I’m glad your pea is nothing. YES everyone needs to do self checks – as my daughter is only 27.

    Keep doing what you are doing because it seems to be working! Hugs, Lori

  5. I say go for it. I think it would be fascinating to participate in that type of research project.

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