Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December Update (or downdate)

I went to see the cancer doctor today. For the past two months, there has been a decline in the cancer-indicating M-spike, from 1.1 in early October to 0.7 earlier this month. This is the lowest it has been in six years. The decrease coincides with the time that I have been adding (somewhat on my own) low doses of a previously prescribed steroid to the incredibly expensive cancer drug. The doc attributes the decreases to the incredibly expensive cancer drug that is not hard on my body, but my review of the data favors (from a strictly human perspective) the inexpensive steroid that is very hard on my body. Anyway, we know who is ultimately behind any decrease and give thanks to Him.

As always, your friendship, prayers, encouragement and support are much appreciated.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Update October 2016

I went to see the cancer doc this week, and things are just about the same. The cancer has increased very slightly over the past 3 months (from 1.0 to 1.1). The blood is also healthier, which means the bone marrow is getting replenished and making good blood again. The doc is very happy with the low amount of increase in the cancer, the improvement in the blood, and my overall level of fitness. I can out-swim at least half of the old ladies in the pool in the mornings, but I do still get tired more quickly than normal.

The doc is not prescribing any change to the chemo treatment. I will have another blood test in early November, and see the doc again in December.

The prayers and encouragement are much appreciated.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Doc Who Tells It Like It Is

I saw the cancer doctor this past week, and discussed results of the blood sample taken the week before. The cancer indicator is down quite a bit from last month, but up slightly from 2 months ago. For the past 4 months, the readings are 0.7, 0.8, 1.3 and 1.0.  What this means is that last month was an anomalous data reading, either due to a goofed-up test in the cancer lab (my hypothesis), or because I was sick at the time the sample was taken (Carol's theory). Throwing out the bad data point, we are seeing a slow and steady increase of 0.1 per month. I will get another blood reading in early September, but it will be two months before I see the cancer doc again, because even cancer docs need a vacation now and then.

The doctor is pleased with the slow rate at which the cancer is progressing and also with overall improvements in the quality of blood the marrow is making. He said that after another couple of months of this lower chemo, I might get to take a break from it. 

I asked him why it is taking so long for my leg muscles to heal and for me to start walking better again, and he said, "Because you're old." But, I countered that I could walk great in the pool, just not so good on dry land. He said, "Not only are you old; you're also fat." (Maybe not his EXACT words, but I think that was the logical progression of what he meant.) 

Thanks for the prayers, support and encouragement.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Stay the Course

Carol and I just got back from seeing the cancer doc.  The cancer indicator increased by 60% (from 0.8 to 1.3) over the past month. Initially, this concerned us greatly, but the doc is not worried about it. He does not consider it to be a trend until he sees it for two or more months in a row, and he is a very good cancer doc. So for now, we will stay the course at the "maintenance" level of 10 mg of wonderdrug per day, as opposed to 25 mg of wonderdrug plus steroids, which is the treatment level. On another note, the doc is very encouraged and enthusiastic by increases in the overall quality of the blood. As always, your prayers, encouragement expressions of friendship and concern are much appreciated.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Where It's At (or, more properly, At Where It Is)

After lots of tests, I saw the cancer doc this past week and had some more tests run, and just heard back from him on Friday. To place into perspective, the cancer was at its highest (and hardest) point ever in late January, five months ago. The cancer has now been reduced to about 1/6 of that level (from 4.5 to 0.8 on my cancer's scale), but the medicine we have been using is no longer be effective at reducing it. The cancer has leveled off, is no longer decreasing, and actually showed a slight increase this past time. The cancer doc has therefore decided to stop current treatment, and place me on lower dose on the medication (40% of current dose, and dropping the accompanying steroid treatment), with the goal being to limit future growth rather than attempting to drive the cancer down any lower. Next time it reaches an "unacceptable" level, we'll have to try some other medication, but at least now there are some other medicines out there. This is a marathon, not a sprint, full of strategic moves and counter-moves, and we knew from the outset it would hopefully be a long haul. Thanks, as always, for your prayers and encouragement.  

Michael Katz

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Good news, bad news, all kinds of news

Thank you for your faithful prayers in my regard. Here is what has transpired of late:
  • Good news: The cancer-measuring paraprotein screen (used to be M-spike) is down from 1.2 last month to 0.7 this month. This is less than 1/6 of what it was when it hit its all-time high of 4.6 just 4 months ago in late January. On this past Monday, I began round # 3 of the chemo, and we are hopeful that it will be the last for this time. It would be great to be done with Revlimid/Dexamethasone after only 3 months this time, as compared to the 14 months it took last time. 
  • Not really news: The chemotherapy is just as tough this time as it was in 2009-2010, but that is hardly "news." Maybe a little tougher since I am older, coming off or some rough treatments, and have a much more demanding job than I did back then. It is a roller coaster ride with good days and bad every week; today is a pretty good day.
  • Bad news: As of the latest doctor visit and blood sampling, the bone marrow has not rejuvenated to produce good blood, especially red blood cells, and that is causing serious anemia. Consider that on Feb. 9, 70% of my bone marrow was occupied by cancer cells. We have killed off a lot a cancer, but the good bone marrow hasn't re-established and  started making good blood yet.  The anemia causes fatigue, lack of energy, shortness of breath, swelling, etc. I have started back to the gym, however, walking and "running" in the pool and even swimming short distances, and I think it is helping a lot.
  • Other news: On Friday evening, 5/13, I took an ambulance ride to the ER because I was having a strong arterial fibulation (all 4 chambers of the heart beating rapidly, all at once, no regular rhythm), accompanied by chest pain, tightness of chest, shortness of breath, and pain in some extremities. I suspect it was due to the meds I had been taking, but cannot definitively prove it. After an hour, Carol got me to go to the Fire Station around the corner, and they got me to go to the ER. Prior to leaving the station, however, they gave me a shot of a medicine that got me stabilized.  The ER kept us for 4 hours running tests and things before we left for home at 3:15 AM. I have done some follow up tests with a cardiologist, but the cause of the fibulation still has not been determined.
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement on my behalf.