Thursday, July 22, 2010

Counts holding somewhat steady

A quick post: I've put myself on bi-weekly instead of weekly blood tests. The counts have improved to a certain extent, after the flavopiridol trial I was on last year/this year.

My hemoglobin count has improved to 12.0, after running in the 10s and 11s for the past two and one have years, after the poor decision to do FCR. My white count is now in the normal range, so no more neupogen or neulasta shots, for the time being. My platelets are also in the normal range, the first time in years (albeit low normal). I've been feeling pretty good, with no infections and no major problems.

So, as I've indicated before, flavopiridol (Alvocidib) is a great success for me.

It's not a cure, though. Everyone seems to relapse, and hardly anyone gets a complete remission out of it. My latest bone marrow biopsy shows CLL still present, and my spleen may have increased in size a bit. Nothing, though, that causes me any problems.

The average remission (which is in my case a partial remission) lasts 12 months for most CLL patients, and 9 months for those who have the 11q deletion, which is unfortunately my situation. However, one of the interesting things about Alvocidib is that is almost always works as well upon re-treatment. The treatment lasts eight months, and if I get nine months of remission, I could conceivably get eight plus nine months (17 months) for the first go-around, and another 17 months the second. This means I could perhaps get a total of THREE YEARS of decent health out of Alvocidib! For someone in my condition whose prognosis is regarded as 'grim', I think that qualifies as a miracle of sorts, thought Dr. T.H. probably wouldn't think so.

Anyway, I'm not cured, my CLL is still here, and my misguided use of FCR has made me much more vulnerable to MDS or Richter's, so I'm not out of the woods yet. However, at 12 months and counting after beginning Alvocidib, feeling good enough that CLL isn't pressing on my mind daily, is a great thing.

Would I do Alvocidib again? I'd say the pay-off is worth it.

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