It has been quite a while since my last report, and I was somewhat worried then about an uptick in my M-spike score. However, that came back down. In December, it even dropped to 0.6, but that excitement was short-lived. It has been back up and as of my last reading on January 30th, it was still stuck at 0.7. So, basically no real change -- those were just random fluctuations. I also received my last Zometa infusion at the start of January. Why?
Because....in my most recent visit with my oncologist at the end of January, we reviewed my results and discussed the situation. He said that it was clear that I still was experiencing "stable disease" which is a term I had just seen for the first time in a webinar about Multiple Myeloma for patients, coming out of the annual meeting of hematologists (blood cancer specialists). He also said that given this situation, he did not see the need for me to keep coming in monthly or even bimonthly. He ALSO said that he just read two meta-analyses (studies of many smaller studies to look for broad general patterns) that showed that Myeloma patients receiving Zometa showed the same benefits whether they received monthly treatments or a treatment every three months. Eureka!
I say this only because.....I really, really hate those Zometa treatments! So my next treatment won't be until the start of April -- and then I'll probably feel like crap for the entire weekend. Maybe a good target for Conference weekend? I can stay at home.......hmmmm.
Other than the doctor visits decreasing and the Zometa treatments less often, things have been going reasonably well. In my last bloodwork, I actually had hematocrit and hemoglobin counts that were in the normal range. Wowzers, that hasn't happened (hemoglobin) since last May. This means that I had enough iron to be able to get a reasonable level of oxygen in my blood......except my red blood counts were still below normal, but not terribly below the bottom of normal. I attributed my higher iron counts to eating more kale. We'll see if that keeps up. More kale on the menu (crunch, crunch)!
We did have a (sort of) funny interaction with the doctor before we left. I said, "If my iron counts are in normal range, and my red counts are awful, why am I still so tired, and out of breath if I go up some stairs?" He paused for what seemed like a long moment and looked at me, then slowly said, "Well, you have gone through five rounds of chemotherapy; you went through a stem cell transplant, and you still have cancer -- you have been hammered, and your body has been prematurely aged." I am thankful he didn't pull any punches but oooof! He's right, though. I'm walking, mostly every day with my lovely wife and the dogs, and I am healthy enough to still be working. I'll be glad for whatever I can do.
Speaking of working -- about 6 weeks left in the semester. I AM taking summer off -- no more summer work for me. My book has been printed -- hooray! Available now on styluspub.com and amazon.com! And it is generating interest, so I'm glad that the book seems useful to many, and I hope it makes a difference.
I have been able to attend a couple of conferences and even presented in one (for less than an hour) -- so I'm sort of getting back in the swing. Fall semester I will probably have three classes on my workload plus my coaching stuff, so we'll see how that goes.
We will be traveling in a couple of months for my nephew's wedding -- this will be a test of whether I'm capable of doing any larger traveling which is still on my bucket list!
The overall verdict? Life is good. Cancer sucks. I still think about it every day. My wife and I have been attending some workshops on retirement and planning for the future, and it has made things a bit more acute again -- I am still hoping to retire on time, and I do want some time to see my grandkids! I'll take every day I can get. I am very, very grateful for all of your continued support and prayers, and for the endless support of my loving wife. I thank God for each breath I take. May each of you find joy in your days. This is a birthday worth celebrating!