Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Counts are good

I read a very hopeful story yesterday about a young girl with leukemia, near death after chemotherapy had failed to keep her in remission, who received an experimental treatment that gave her a new chance at life.

Last April, when Emma Whitehead was six, doctors at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia gave her a disabled form of the virus that causes AIDS in an attempt to reprogram her immune system. The experiment worked, and seven months later she remains cancer free.

The New York Times ran a beautiful photo of Emma and her mother smiling together. It's always encouraging to read about promising new cancer treatments, and it caught my eye especially because it was about leukemia.

Coincidentally, I read the story while waiting to be called in for my two-month checkup at Dana-Farber. I had driven to Boston that morning through fog and pouring rain, fueled by glazed Munchkins and coffee.

My counts were good – about the same as last time – except that my platelets went down a little, to 86, out of a normal range of 155-410. But they have bounced around in the same vicinity for a long time, and my doctors remain unconcerned.

My hematocrit – 35.7 – was normal for the third time in a row, qualifying me for getting a pint of blood taken out to lower my ferritin. In an odd way, I was looking forward to it. Anything to take even a little less of the nauseating Exjade, which is the main way of lowering ferritin.

Melissa was about to schedule the "blood-letting" but then said I should wait until the next time because the procedure would make me a little anemic, which would not be good right before I go away.

I'm leaving on Sunday.



Robin said...

I read that article about Emma it's amazing news, and such an advancement! Incredible.

PJ said...

I read that article, too. Isn't is weird that we can so easily absorb this stuff? I'm glad you can toss the exjade.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of inspiring, a student of mine and i were talking about you and your postings. She has gone back home to Alabama because her Mother has Stage 3 /4 Breast Cancer.

Her Father is a physician, and her Mother is getting the best care possible. Her parents were amazed by your story -- and i am getting chills as i write this...and found you a wonderful heroine -- truly inspiring...i said that we have been friends since we were 11 -- about twenty years ago?


Anonymous said...

A29Footnote to my earlier comment:

Ronni -- i wish you had been there this morning -- when i asked Mary (the student) if she had shown your blog/story to her parents, she simply beamed...said that they found you so amazing...

i don't think any of us will ever know the number of people to whom you have given hope, and made their face light up with a smile during the most horrible time of illness and darkness...