I hope this post finds everyone warm and cozy after a beautiful holiday season.
Brandon and I had an amazing Christmas with our family. Despite going through continuous treatment, Brandon was feeling well and was able to enjoy the holidays. I am so thankful that we made it through December without any unexpected hospital stays or complications. Spending Christmas at home with those we love was the greatest gift that we could have ever asked for.
Brandon has almost finished his second cycle of this new treatment! Since Brandon started this treatment almost 2 months ago, there has been a huge decline in the number of blast (leukemia) cells circulating in his blood. When he started, his white blood cells were about 90% leukemia cells. Just this past week, his white blood cells were down to about 15% leukemia cells! These results have been especially promising given how quickly Brandon’s leukemia progresses without proper treatment.
Since the leukemia cells are still present in his blood we know that he is not yet in remission. However, the steady decrease in circulating leukemia cells is a great sign that this treatment is moving things in the right direction! On Wednesday Brandon will be having a bone marrow biopsy to evaluate this treatment’s effectiveness at a deeper level. They will be looking to see the percentage of leukemic stem cells present in his bone marrow and which genetic mutations they carry. This will give the doctors a clear picture of how Brandon’s body is responding to this treatment. This will also allow them to plan for his continued treatment as we move toward a second stem cell transplant.
This coming biopsy will be Brandon’s 18th. The stress and fear that surrounds these results seems to only worsen over time. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we anxiously await this news. We are hoping and praying for positive results that will point us in the right direction. We will be meeting with Brandon’s leukemia doctor on Friday to discuss the next steps.
Overall, Brandon is doing well on this treatment regimen. Aside from the leukemia, he’s in pretty great health! The skin infection that he acquired a few months ago is almost completely gone. He was finally able to transition from IV to oral antibiotics after about a month and a half and things seem to be continuing to improve. He still has an extremely compromised immune system, so we are on high alert for potential infections. This means a lot of preventative medications, hand washing, temperature taking, and mask wearing. We are thankful that Brandon has remained relatively healthy despite his increased risk.
Brandon’s bone marrow is still unable to make enough of his own blood cells so he has continued to receive multiple blood transfusions throughout the week. This keeps us in the hospital about 30 hours a week between doctors appointments, blood work, and transfusions. We are thankful, however, that Brandon has remained on an outpatient basis since starting this treatment in November.
Just a few weeks ago, Brandon and I shared our story to shine a light on the importance of blood donation. We were interviewed by KPRC2 News to help motivate people to become regular blood donors. This time of year blood banks run critically low as people are consumed with their holiday plans. Blood banks get close to running out of blood and sometimes hospitals have to turn people away that need transfusions! This year, please consider making a New Years resolution to become a regular blood donor. You can make a difference and save lives! You can view the news story here.
As we move into 2017, Brandon and I have done a lot of reflecting about our journey over the last 18 months. We spent 2016 working towards one goal: beating leukemia. It’s been a long road with countless victories and accomplishments, in addition to many disappointments and setbacks. Although 2016 was difficult to depths I could never describe, it brought us closer and strengthened our love, faith, and commitment to one another. We learned the true meaning of love and now have a greater appreciation for the gift of life. This year, we bring with us a fire and determination to beat leukemia once and for all. We are so hopeful for what this New Year will bring and the miracles and victories that await us.
Thank you all for your continued love and support. I will continue to keep everyone up to date with our progress towards a life without leukemia. I can feel it, 2017 is going to be the year!