Chemo postponed

Blood tests revealed a drop in my white blood cell and neutrophil counts over the weekend. So, they are waiting to start the consolidation until those numbers bump back up (perhaps on Wednesday). I suppose if they continue to go down, there will be much furling of brows and scratching of chins since, in theory, I should be well on my way to increased bone marrow activity. On the other hand, apparently this is not much to be worried about, just another lesson in patience, another “bump in the road.” However, when told not to worry as many times as we have been told, it’s hard not to start wondering if they are just saying it as opposed to really meaning it. But, in the end, not worrying is the best thing to do… I mean, we all like to keep our sanity, right?

Looking at the bright side, today will sort of be a free day. No harsh drugs coursing through my body = feeling pretty good. So, on that note, I’ll leave you with another image of the lovely things around me that gently nudge me away from worry.


(Judging by all the floral pictures I’ve taken, it’s probably a good thing I’m not going through this in the dead of winter.)

With the flow

After a couple of successful injections of G-CSF (thank you, Virginia for the shots, and thank you, modern medicine, for powerfully effective drugs), my white blood counts jumped from a meager 1.5 k/ul to a whopping 12.6 (the normal range being between 4 and 11) practically overnight. I felt pretty invincible over the weekend, with more infection fighting cells in my body than I have had in a really long time. But, like the saying goes, all good things must eventually come to an end.

My white count is back to where it’s typically been… 2.0 k/ul. So, I’m back to plugging along, letting my bone marrow do the hard work without the help of growth factors. I’m good with it, even if it means more of a delay before being able to start my second round of consolidation. In fact, it reminds me of a beetle I observed while sitting outside the other day.


It was walking across the long expanse of our patio table with a dogged determination (being especially patient once I started to get involved and forced it to stop for a photo). It just kept on walking, destination unknown to me, and perhaps unimportant… just kept walking, pushing forward.

So, we, too, learn to just go with the flow, moving forward. No amount of stress, mental bending or finger crossing is going to make my bone marrow do anything other than what it is going to do.

Activities for this week include an echocardiogram on Thursday (make sure the chemotherapy hasn’t done any permanent damage to my heart), an EKG on Friday, and a scheduling appointment with the oncologist to determine the start date of my last (keeping my fingers crossed, despite what I just talked about — habits are hard to break) round of consolidation.

A little patience

I realized it has been awhile since my last update, so for those of you still keeping tabs on what has been going on with me, here’s the scoop.

I started my second round of chemo two Mondays ago (technically it’s the first round of my consolidation treatment, but to me it’s the second time being administered chemo). I went to my new home away from home (Regions Hospital Cancer Care Center) three days in a row for a 15-minute injection of Idarubicin. There’s something disconcerting about seeing a bright orange liquid entering your body; even more disconcerting when the nurse administering the drug is wearing googles, gloves and protective gown; and, if you didn’t think the medicine was potent enough, when they suggest you flush the toilet twice during the days that follow… well, you catch my drift.

Now that the three infusions are finished we wait. My blood counts started to drop on Monday. By Wednesday I was back to being neutropenic and Friday I received another transfusion of platelets. I kind of wish I had kept track of the amount of blood products I have received over the course of my hospital stay and now during these rounds of consolidation… you could probably start measuring it in gallons. It certainly has made me a more outspoken advocate of blood donation. In fact, let me just restate my request to those of you who have asked what you could do during this time… give blood!

The silver lining in all of this is that I am still at home. As long as I don’t get an infection, I can continue to hang out and wait for the cell counts to start increasing again. But, waiting starts to become more like sitting around the house and getting grouchy. I’m not sure how Virginia puts up with me, but she does. More than that, she takes care of me so much that I feel like I’m probably getting spoiled.

So, as we make adjustments to our schedules for our tri-weekly visits to the cancer care center, wait for the marrow to start making non-mutated white blood cells again, and do a lot of other rearranging of priorities, we require patience and a little bit of flexibility. Some days are better than others, as this is not the most forgiving way of developing patience.