Sunday, June 26, 2016
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: Shortly after I was diagnosed with multiple myelome in 2007, I attend a conference sponsored by the International Myeloma Foundation. It was a greatly beneficial conference, with leading doctors and researchers in the field, and oncology nurses providing helpful information on the disease. One of the speakers was a gentleman named Michael Katz. He was neither a doctor nor researcher nor any type of a medical professional. Michael was a patient, and his message was: Life doesn't end just because you have been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Michael spoke of how in the more than 15 years since his own diagnosis, hel had watched his children grow up, finish high school and college and the many wonderful things that he had gotten to witness in his life (at the time he spoke, life expectancy after diagnosis was 5 years). Later that day, I found myself standing next to Michael in the lunch line, and we got to sit together and visit over lunch, not talking about the disease, but just chatting about our lives. He was very pleased that one of his sons had just become a rabbi. Yesterday, I was saddened to learn that Michael Katz had died. His 25 year battle with MM was over. I never saw Mr. Katz again after that encounter, but many times through my own battle with MM he has served as an inspiration to me, and I am greatly saddened to learn of his death.