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.