Saturday, October 24, 2015

An Update from David himself

So, this is much easier.... David wrote an update to his friends so I don't have too :)

Hello everyone,

This was long due, but the last few weeks have been harsh on me … I caught a sinus infection that is usually gone within a week … but my immune system having been erased (I’m weaker than a baby, who gets his from his mum), fighting against it is taking a toll on me, esp. as it accumulates with the chemo side effects. I feel like I’m a chemical factory with all the drugs I have to ingest haha. I’m just then taking it slowly, getting transfused with immunoglobulin every 3 weeks to help me fight against viruses.

Summary of the last few months: I went through 4 chemos (3 for "cleaning" the leukemia cells, 1 for the transplant). All has been going pretty well: No leukemia cells detected since the first chemo and I was lucky my youngest brother was fully compatible with me for the bone marrow transplant that was planned early September (statistically each of my brothers only had 25% chance).

The preparation chemo (the toughest, erasing my bone marrow and immune system) and the transplant went perfectly. My brother’s stem cells were so active that my aplasia (loss of all cells) only lasted 2 weeks instead of the typical 4 weeks. Doctors told me I almost had a grand slam if I didn’t have a small raise in temperature one evening. A few mouth sores were bugging me while I was at the hospital, but it only lasted a weekend.

I thus have been able to go back home after only 3 weeks (typically is 4 to 6) which was also a relief, since staying in a sterile room isn’t the best environment.

Now I’m in the acute GvH “danger zone”, which is about 100 days after the transplant, i.e. mid-december (beyond can be chronic but less dangerous). So far so good, got nothing. I’m mostly bothered by the (very strong) chemo side effects: lack of hunger, nausea, fatigue. I’ve lost more than 35lbs/17Kgs since March .. but can’t tell it’s all bad ;) since I was on the overweight side. Doctors prescribed me with food complements since I’m still losing about 1Kg per week. I guess I’m good for a full closet refresh when I’ll be back in office ;)

My diet is pretty constrained as well until the 100 days: no cheese, fresh bread, etc that could be "tainted" ... i.e. mostly frozen/prepared meals. Nothing raw or rare (meat, sushi, seafood, etc) for a year :(

I’m taking a lot of drugs, esp. anti-reject pills for the transplant, until the 100 days term. Then they’ll reduce the dosage until 6 months, which is about when I shall be able to go “officially” back to work (probably April). By then my immune system should be back to “normal”, even though I’ll be sensitive to any cold/etc: like a child/baby, I will catch again all colds, etc until my immune system rebuilds up against them. I’ll also be re-vaccinated for everything (measles, polio, whooping cough, tetanus, etc) after the 100 days (since all has been erased as well) .. so I just have to be careful until then. I’m going once a week to the hospital for a full checkup until the 100 days then it will be once a month until 6 months and then once a year for life.

I now have a new blood type card … a special receiver one with both my original and my brother’s details (as we're not twins, there are some differences), since I’m producing his blood, mine being history now .. but limits the types of cells I can receive (blood, platelets)

If all goes as expected, i.e. no relapse within 2 years of the original diagnostic (last March), they will consider me cured (after that period, statistics for relapses are very low) :)
For now, I’m still considered “RC1” i.e. complete remission at 1st chemo, as they haven’t detected any cancerous cells since then. My next biopsy is due after the 100 days ... my weekly blood results are good so far.

I’m glad Emily and I have been able to take a 2 weeks break in Corsica last August, since my travels are going to be restricted for a while (not sure when my next travel overseas will be allowed). I had regained some weight (loaded with ice cream, Corsican cheese and meat ;) ) and strength before the transplant and that was a good thing.


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  3. So glad to hear from you even though Em is an excellent writer- makes me laugh & cry but mostly miss you guys. Healthy thoughts to both of you!