It’s been over a week since I finished the chemotherapy, and in terms of treatment – from my immediate standpoint – there isn’t much to report medically. My white blood cell count is still right down, and while it remains there, there’s nothing much to be done apart from wait for it to come back up again.
When it does, I’ll have another bone marrow biopsy to see how much residual leukaemia there is since we blasted it with this round of chemo. This time we’re trying to get me into remission for a BMT, rather than necessarily expecting to wipe out all the lymphoblasts just with the chemo; remission doesn’t necessarily mean the complete obliteration of all the leukaemic cells – desirable as that would be!
Meanwhile, the search for a bone marrow match continues; as with all these things, it takes time, and involves a gradual narrowing-down of criteria until a suitable match is confirmed, at which point the potential donor still needs to be contacted, checked to see that nothing’s changed since their original sample, asked if they’re happy to donate, etc.
I thought Dr Klammer’s explanation of what they’re doing was good. He compared the match-testing to digital photos; at the first stage (HLA matching, I think) the pictures are looked at at low resolution, and two fairly pixellated pics may look pretty similar. Once potential matches have been identified at this low-res level, it’s time to look at a higher-resolution version, to see more precisely just how similar the pictures are.
I understand this is what they’re doing at the moment – but I’m afraid it doesn’t mean you’re all off the hook for signing up to the bone marrow registers, as there’s a long way to go and the search will continue for the best possible match… Just as importantly, of course, there may well be other patients who need your stem cells in the future!
Dr Klammer reiterated the fact that I will probably need another round of chemo once I’ve recovered from this one, in order to maintain my remission in the run-up to a transplant; it’s not a particularly enticing prospect, but having completed the protocol once already, it’s not too daunting an idea, either. It may not be necessary, anyway – a lot will depend on the bone marrow match, as well as what my bone marrow biopsy shows.
Meanwhile, I was given some platelets the other day as they were down to 8 (normal is 150-440), and I might be getting another blood transfusion tomorrow, as my haemoglobin is around 80 (normal is 130-180). I don’t feel too tired, but I’m not jumping up and down on the bed, either. Maybe tomorrow…