Sunday, January 15, 2012

Red Cells and White Cells and Hematocrit, OH MY!

Another month down.  It is amazing to me how time is flying.  On my last therapy, time went so slow that it felt like it was moving in reverse.  I’d think to myself “Ok, I’ve been on the therapy four months, two weeks, three days and 12 hours.  Only 20 more months to go!”  Sigh.
This time around, I’m just living my life and my therapy is floating around somewhere in the background.   I’m still a little limited.  I can’t quite head to Disney for the week, but we did manage to squeeze in an overnight trip to Nantucket in December, and those of you who have been to Nantucket know it doesn’t get much better than that!  Yesterday, my cell phone rang and I ran, actually RAN, up the stairs.  When I picked it up and said “hello”, a huge grin spread across my face as I realized I wasn’t winded.  Wow, what an accomplishment!  I felt like celebrating on the spot.  It was only a few months ago that walking up the slightly inclined paved driveway to pick up my daughter at pre-school was a cause for heavy  breathing.  Two years ago I could barely climb the stairs.  Suffice it to say, I’ve come a long way.
In fact, the therapy is such a small part of my life that I forgot about my blood results!  I had my blood drawn last Monday and I knew it was likely that Dr. Gonzalez would call me on Tuesday evening with results.  On the nights that I expect his call, I walk around glued to my cell phone and avoid leaving the  house between 5:00 and 7:00 because I don’t want to risk driving through a dead zone and missing the call.  I suppose this just goes to show that we attract what we fear because I have missed the call at least three times when I’m doing everything I can to ensure I hear it ring.  This time, when I forgot about the call, I heard the phone ring loud and clear. 
So, last Tuesday night, I’m running around like a crazy woman trying to make carrot  juice, eat dinner, feed my little one and run out the door to pick up my oldest from dance class, when my cell  phone rang.  I was planning to skip it but took a peek to see who was calling and it was Dr. Gonzalez.  It took a second before I remembered that I’d had my blood drawn the previous morning.  Normally, on the day I’m expecting lab numbers, I walk around fidgety and antsy, nervously awaiting my results.  Now that I’m doing well, I am so relaxed that I actually forgot about them.
I learned from our call that I continue to have significant improvements in several numbers while one went in the wrong direction.  Dr. Gonzalez began the conversation by saying that blood work after the holidays is often off due to the stress his patients experience during the season.  When he asked if my holidays were stressful, I said that they were not.  I had my best holiday season ever!  My girls are at fun ages and I’m getting better.  What more could I ask?  Things are just plain wonderful.  However, what slipped my mind at the time, is that I had recently learned that my best buddy from Gerson died.  I’ve been so sad.  When I’m alone, I tend to walk around shaking my head “no” as if I can shake the bad news off of me and bring her back.    
Celia was a biologist from Calgary.  An admitted health nut, she was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside (and that’s saying a lot).  Two years prior to our meeting in Mexico, when she was only 30, she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer which her doctors had easily removed with surgery.  She’d always been health minded and, after her surgery, she began to follow a strict raw foods diet.  She planned to live a long, healthy life. 
In 2009, the cancer returned and her doctor told her it was incurable.  At most, she had two years to live if she did chemotherapy.  She even flew from Calgary down to the world renowned MD Andersen in Texas thinking that they might have a more effective treatment and optimistic prognosis.  No luck.  After speaking with an acquaintance whose life had been saved on the Gerson Therapy, she told her oncologist she was going to try the alternative route and her oncologist got angry.  “You are going to die if you do this!” she yelled.  Well, the way Celia saw it, she was going to die anyway, so why not take a chance on something that could save her life rather than pursue the conventional track that was guaranteed to be a failure? 
I met about 25 late stage cancer patients at the Gerson clinic in Mexico, and I always felt confident that Celia would be one of the few who would make it.  During my visualization exercises over the last two years, I pictured us meeting in Vancouver for a celebratory hike and herbal tea toast.  She was young, vibrant and determined.  She had a wonderful family and they were committed to her success.  Her parents sold the family business and their house to move several hours away and live with Celia so that they could care for her on the therapy.
When Celia didn’t return my last couple of emails, I began to worry.  It didn’t take long for me to do some research and learn that she had passed away.  Given the 50%+ chance of success she would have had with Dr. Gonzalez, I can’t help but wonder if she would be alive today if she had pursued his therapy.  I’ll never know but it’s frustrating to me that she didn’t have the chance to evaluate The Gonzalez Therapy because she didn’t know it existed.
At any rate, once I hung up the phone from discussing test results with Dr. Gonzalez, I realized that the last month has been an emotional roller coaster and that may have affected my blood work (why is it that I always remember the important comments after we hang up?).
Regardless of the recent emotional ups and downs, I continue to be thrilled with my results.  To start, for the first time in well over four years, my red blood cells are IN RANGE!!  This month, they increased from 3.61 to 3.88.  My white blood cells stayed consistently strong at 4.8.  Dr. Gonzalez says he’ll be happy with 4.8 if they stay there for the next fifty years.  I love that comment.  I encourage anyone reading this to tell a myeloma patient or oncologist that you know someone who has IGA myeloma and is planning to live another fifty years and see what he says.  He’ll either want to read my blog asap or won’t believe you.  Sadly, it will probably be the latter…..but I digress.  Hemoglobin continued to increase from 9.7 to 10.1.  This is not surprising to me as I can feel myself getting stronger.  For better or worse, I can stay up very late without feeling too tired.  Hematocrit also increased a significant 1.8 points from 31.0 to 32.8.  So, three important numbers improved and I’m delighted.  The other number that we evaluate on a monthly basis is IGA, which is my tumor marker.  Unfortunately, it went in the wrong direction.  It’s never fun when that happens but I’m okay with it for the following reasons:
1.      I’ve had my blood tested for the lasts consecutive 30 months and know that, on any given day, it can fluctuate.  We don’t evaluate blood work based on one test, we look at the trend.  Since I’ve been trending in the right direction, I feel pretty good about it.  Dr. Gonzalez says that patients never heal in a straight line.
2.      Dr. Gonzalez said he finds hemoglobin to be an accurate measurement of success.  Most cancer patients are anemic and if they’re not getting better, their hemoglobin just doesn’t improve.  My hemoglobin has consistently improved over the last several months.
3.      Dr. Gonzalez says that he finds the hair test analysis to be far more accurate than any conventional tumor marker.  If you read my last post, you know I had a huge improvement in my hair sample results.
4.      Three important numbers including red blood cells, hemoglobin, and hematocrit improved!

As I told Dr. Gonzalez, I am thrilled.  I didn’t know if I would ever see the day when my white and red blood cells moved into range.  To see so many numbers continuing to improve makes my day.   I know that IGA can be unpredictable.

So, dear friends, that’s all for now.  Expect a new post from me in a few days where I’ll discuss why you should consider eating red meat.  (yes, you read it right)    

2 comments:

  1. I didn't realize you lost a friend Threrea... I am sorry.

    As you know one of my best friends is a radiation therapist in Boston. Over the weekend she was telling me a story about a 30 old woman that she is treating who has Multiple Mylemoa. She was telling me how sick this woman is and how extreme her pain is. In the back of my mind I was thinking, I wish I could tell her that there is a cure, I wish I could introduce her to Theresa!

    I am so thankful that you met Dr. Gonzales and that you are getting better every day! - XOXO MB

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  2. I've been following your blog and praying since you sent me the URL on LinkedIn. What an encouraging story!

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