Friday, June 15, 2012

Plu ça Change...

Smoky Mountain Vista taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway, 6-3-12
Plu ça change.....        

        That's probably really bad French.... it's supposed to mean "the more things change", and you're supposed to fill in the rest (plu ca la mem change) - "the more they stay the same".  I hope someone can correct me on that.  We do have some changes to report, plus new blood counts, but I am pressed for time so forgive me if I am to the point.  Let's go to the numbers - platelets up from 99,000 to 126,000!  This is excellent, indicating my marrow is continuing to recover from the recent "insult", (Dr. Kritz called it that - isn't' that a great word in this situation?)  which they continue to believe was a virus of unknown identity.  My white count dropped precipitously, from about 13,000 down to 3,800 - this was expected because we stopped the neupogen support on the 6th of June.  My ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is 1500, which is fine - but we don't want it to drop further (less than 1,000 is "neutropenia").  I will get checked again Monday morning, just before leaving for Chicago.  Yes, Chicago, not Houston.

        So here's the plu ca change ....I got an email from Dr. Bollard (see last post) indicating that the prepared t-cells did not "play nice" with my other sister's (Jill's) blood cells - the t-cells killed them.  This test, required by the FDA, has to be a "pass" in order for me to continue as a subject for this trial.  Therefore the t-cell project is on indefinite hold.  I had planned to fly from Houston to Chicago to spend a couple of days with my parents and Jill and her family - so with the cancellation of the t-cell infusion, I decided to extend that trip to 4 days - I'll arrive Monday afternoon and return Friday afternoon.  We already have a lot planned for those 3 days (Tu-Wed-Thu), so hopefully, much blog photo material will be on the way!  (I deduce that the Lord wanted me in Chicago on Monday and Tuesday, not in Houston!  All will be well.)

        Back to the t-cell project - we will try to re-run the required tests with a couple of different cell populations - the same t-cells, but tested for compatibility with some of my own skin cells, and also against a sample of my dad's blood.  I can't go into the medical detail except to say that they are trying to demonstrate that the t-cells, once infused into my body, will not cause a negative reaction.  This process may take many weeks.  Again, the overall purpose of the trial is to give my body an additional defense against the possible return of the lymphoma.

I need to run now.....God keep you and bless you.......Dan and Renee

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Photos, Counts, and Gratitude

One of Renee's many garden accents - fairy habitat :-)

Hello friends, I saw Jessica and Dr. Kritz (very briefly) yesterday.....When I am doing very well, Dr. Kritz lets Jessica (advanced practice nurse or APN) see me and he focuses his attention on people with more troubles - as he should.  Anyway, my platelets were up again, this time to 99,000 (from 77,000) - which is GREAT news.  Dr. Kritz pronounced my count-killing malady (still unidentified) as "resolved".  My white count and neutrophils were still way high, so we will stop the neupogen shots and see where my counts stabilize unaided.

I have two trips to Houston coming up, June 18-20 and July 2-3, for my t-cell infusions.  Briefly, these t-cells were taken from my sister Laure, my donor, a few months ago, then modified to "target" EBV, the virus that is integrated with my lymphoma tumor cells.  Then they are copied into the billions of cells and will be infused into my body on the two aforementioned dates.  The design is that these super t-cells will attack and kill any lymphoma/EBV that tries to reconstitute in my body - preventing a relapse of the highly aggressive lymphoma that I HAD!  Any of you scientific types may enjoy further reading here:

This is a clinical trial.. and this is the doc that is in charge - she is with the Baylor College of Medicine and is a native New Zealander:

I continue to be stunned and amazed at my medical status - cancer-free, counts looking good - healthy and active - the Lord has blessed me and my family and we are full of gratitude and praise.  He is in control - always has been, always will be.  If we think we are in control, it is an illusion.  The illusion can be shattered in tragic ways.  I was under no such illusion, thanks be to God, and as I told a friend yesterday, I think it is a beautiful thing that we believers can confront a trial and KNOW that it is the Lord, saying in effect - "I have a tough assignment for you - it will challenge you and it will be hard, but if you trust me, it will bear eternal fruit in your life and in the lives of others".  This is miraculous, beautiful, and amazing.

As I left the clinic yesterday, I saw this family of geese that has taken up residence on the lawn outside the front door -

Please join me in looking for the beauty of God's creation every day.  It's there in so many ways, and it's there for us.  Any of you wondering about my return to work - I can say that given these latest improvements in my counts, discussions are beginning on that topic, which is another praise.  Much love - Dan and Renee