Happy Thanksgiving! I have had many inquiries into my lack of posts, so I am posting now for two reasons. One to just bring you up to date and the other to say thank you. It has now been 6 months since my stem cell transplant on May 17, and despite some bumps along the road I can say that I never expected when I first got diagnosed 11 months ago that my treatment would have gone so smoothly. My leukemia remains in remission, as it has been since the transplant.
The “bumps” relate to mild chronic graft vs. host disease, where my donated cells are attacking parts of my body while they get used to the fact that they now belong to the same body. Originally my battle was in my gut, and an extremely high dosage of Prednisone in June and July successfully fought that off. Next in mid-September came signs of liver damage revealed by blood tests, an ultrasound and finally a liver biopsy on Nov. 3. These determined that the problem was again GVHD, and I returned to a new dosage of Prednisone three weeks ago. I will again taper off this slowly, as my liver numbers return to the normal range and no further flareups occur. The only negative in the Prednisone is the return of the muscle-wasting effect that I experienced in the summer. But although my legs have again weakened, I can still get up and down steps slowly, and can still cover 2-3 miles by foot several times a week, with help of my trusty REI trekking poles.
I am back driving, and also back working, about 1/3 time. My immune system is still suppressed, so I can’t be in large groups without at least a high-filtering mask on, and planes are still out of the question (we’ve already cancelled two planned vacations for this winter).
It is Thanksgiving morning and I have so much to be thankful for. My health, which improves. My family, whose love and support has sustained me. Not just Susan, Brian, Jay and their girlfriends Kolby and Rachel, but Susan’s parents, siblings and nephews; my siblings, nieces, nephews and parents; and so many members of the extended family on both sides. I can’t thank enough friends from our Temple including our rabbis; friends and colleagues in my legal practice, especially Lisa Rein; the Goldsteins, Bonnie Berk, Goldbaum-Ungers, Klinghoffers, Kuders, Applegates, Shikiars, Appelbaums, Bergsons, the VR gang, the GHS gang, my fellow Puget Sound Blood Center board and staff members, and many others whose names should be listed here.
Lastly, thanks to the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Group Health who have given their time and expertise to me unstintingly. They are life savers in every sense of the expression.