“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)