I’m excited to say that Brian is technically considered in REMISSION!!! Woo hoo!!!
Let me get you up to speed. A few weeks ago Brian completed his last (4th) round of his current chemotherapy called GN (the normal cocktail is GND but Brian has had his limit of Doxil-the “D” in the name). Our PET scan was scheduled for last Thursday, his results appointment was scheduled for the next day and a DLI treatment was scheduled for today where his sister would donate some of her lymphocytes. With everything lined up, the process would be a domino effect if anything changed.
Enter last Thursday’s snowstorm. With the snow coming down at a rate of 3 inches per hour, people were getting their cars stuck everywhere. There were literally cars stuck everywhere on the interstates. The news channels were telling people to not drive anywhere. But us? Well we had a PET scan scheduled at KU Med downtown…30 miles away…and Brian was determined to make it. I wasn’t so convinced. I finally asked him to call his mom to ask her what she thought. Thankfully his parents offered to take us in their 4-wheel drive truck all the way down there. It was a crazy adventure, for sure!
Friday was much better and we were able to get down to the appointment easily. We also took Hannah and her boyfriend, Eric, to the appointment so Hannah could fill out some consent forms for the DLI process. The doctor (our favorite one) came in and read the report…the one lymph node that showed activity from the previous scan was even smaller!! Brian, knowing many medical assessments because of his 6 years of experience, knew that the size and activity levels were small enough to be considered “in remission.” He asked the doctor and he confirmed…yes, doctors would technically deem this remission. Oddly enough, it does not necessarily mean Brian is cancer-free…which seems weird to me. A PET scan will only show metabolically activity, which means things could light up if there were other types of inflammation. But this one lymph node that “lit up” was within the normal ranges, which is why they consider it remission. Seriously, this is THE BEST news that we have gotten since I have known Brian! It is also the smallest it has been since we have been together! I can finally say that I am married to a guy who is in technical remission!! Woo hoo! Thank you, Jesus! I consider this a miracle.
Today we are at the hospital for a Donor Lymphocyte Infusion. Brian has done these before. They will collect lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) for his sister, Hannah, who was his allogeneic stem cell transplant donor back in 2008. They will collect something like 100 million cells from Hannah. In Brian’s previous DLI, he got those cells over 3 separate appointments, just to make sure he didn’t flare up with graft vs host disease (GVHD). GVHD is where Hannah’s Cells attack Brian’s body…you want enough that it will attack the cancer, but not too much that it starts attacking his whole body. Brian didn’t produce any GVHD from the last DLI. Another reason we chose to do this is that it will hopefully boost Brian’s immune system to keep cancer at bay. This time will be different than the last DLI because Brian will get all 100 million cells at once.This is a riskier treatment, but we are hoping that it will produce slight GVHD to fight the remaining inflammation/cancer in Brian’s body and keep his immune system fighting.
So far today, Hannah has had a line surgically installed into a vein in her neck, and she is now hooked up to a machine that will pull out her blood, spin out the lymphocytes and put the remaining blood back into her body. Crazy, huh? Brian is currently at the KU Cancer Center for the doctors to look over him and make sure everything looks good on his end. I am sitting with Hannah and her boyfriend, Eric, while she sleeps and gets the cells harvested. She will be on he machine for 4 hours…probably until around 1 p.m. Then, Brian will get settled into another room on a different floor where they will get his port accessed and they will inject the cells I to his body. He will likely have to wait for a few hours to be observed before we leave. They don’t expect to see any immediate issues or GVHD. It would start showing up in about a month, if he does get it.
All in all, this will be a very long day. We were at he hospital at 7 a.m. and will probably be here until 5 p.m. (That is just a guess). Keep us in your prayers today and this weekend as Hannah recovers and Brian and I head up to Iowa for the weekend. Also pray that this treatment works, but does not produce an unhealthy amount of GVHD.
After this treatment, the doctor briefly mentioned we may start a drug called Interferion in the future, which is also supposed to boost Brian’s immune system and get it agitated enough to fight off cancer.
That’s all I know, so I guess I’ll just end now. 🙂
PS…be impressed…I typed this entire blog on my Ipad with just the on screen keyboard. 🙂