Recap

I have picked up several new readers recently and felt that a recap of my battle with cancer might be in order.  One of the problems with a blog is that going back and reading all of the previous posts can be both cumbersome and time consuming.   So the following is a summary of my diagnosis and treatment progress:

I am a 68 year old retiree living in North Carolina, married for 44 years to a wonderful wife named Holly, and we have 2 children, Adam and Jill, and 6 grandchildren.  In 2000, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, received both chemotherapy and radiation, and then was cancer free for 12 years.

Based on a lymph node biopsy, on June 6, 2012 I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin's Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma NOS (not otherwise specified).  This particular form of cancer is very rare (340 cases reported worldwide in 2012), very aggressive, difficult to get into remission and very prone to recurrence.  A bone marrow biopsy revealed a 30% involvement and resulted in my cancer being given a Stage 4 designation, the highest (worst) level.  The prognosis was not good, a 5 year survival rate of 20 to 30%, based on the standard treatment protocol.  That was not what I considered to be a good start to my summer.

Based on the poor prognosis, I wanted to pursue and consider other options.  I wound up at Duke Cancer Center, in Durham, North Carolina, under the care of Dr. Ann Beaven, an Oncologist specializing in Lymphoma and Leukemia cancers.  I was accepted as a participant in a clinical trial.  For those with far more medical comprehension than I, the full tile of the clinical trial is A Phase II Study of Cyclophosphamide, Etoposide, Vincristine and Prednisone (CEOP) Alternating With Pralatrexate (P) as Front Line Therapy for Patients With Stage II, III and IV Peripheral T-Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

The trial is based on a 7 week cycle (49 days), with the CEOP drugs being given on days 1,2 and 3, and the Pralatrexate on days, 15, 22 and 29.  Neulasta shots are received on days 4 and 30 to assist in maintaining white blood cell count at an acceptable level.  At the completion of Cycles 2, 4 and 6, the patient is reassessed and progress determined.  In my case, after Cycle 2, I received a another bone marrow biopsy and PET scan.  The bone marrow biopsy showed that my marrow was free of any cancer cells.  The PET scan I received back in June indicated numerous pockets of cancer cells throughout my body (my family doctor indicated that it really 'lit up' the screen).  My subsequent scan showed no indication of cancer cells, other than one persistent lymph node in my abdomen.  In short, after 14 weeks of treatment, my body and my cancer was responding amazingly well.  2 additional Cycles were prescribed, to attempt to impact the one remaining node, with further testing and reassessment in late December.

It is obviously my hope and prayer that when I am reevaluated in December, the remaining lymph node is clear.  At that point I will begin preparations to undergo a autologus bone marrow transplant at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Center, sometime in January 2013.  My doctor for this procedure will be Dr. Mitchell Horwitz, and the reason for pursuing this additional step goes back to fact that my particular lymphoma is very prone to recurrence.  The bone marrow transplant will add a level of insurance that there are no remaining cancer cells, lurking in the shadows, that will return at a later time.  You can read more about my transplant in earlier posts by clicking here and clicking here.

This recap covers the most of the clinical aspects of my cancer odyssey thus far.  I am a strong believer that my arsenal contains 4 distinct weapons for battling this unwanted and unwelcome invader, that has taken up temporary residence in my body.  My treatment regimen, my unique body chemistry, my attitude in confronting this monster, and my faith.  Numerous past posts have dealt with these topics, and no doubt more lie ahead.

Just as a little teaser, I recently read a quote attributed to Churchill "When you are going through hell, keep going".

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