Thursday, February 25, 2010

Were do they all go?

I was discussing some mutual CLL friends with the spouse of a (sadly) deceased CLLer. We both agreed that we had lost touch with a number of outgoing, well-regarded CLL patients. Where do they go? Have they died? Have they just moved on, and stopped posting on the various CLL lists?

I could, but won't, name names. I do know that on many occasions, we get the sad news from a spouse, son or daughter, that their loved one has passed away from this crappy disease. I remember one case that bothered me a lot. The daughter of a proud, older farmer who had developed CLL had written in asking for advice. I gave links to websites, put in my two cents on various subjects, and tried to help anyway I could. Unfortunately, her father passed away from CLL after only a couple of years.

But what about people who just disappear? I know in one case a woman who went through HDMP+R (high dose steroids plus rituxan), and followed it with Campath, had such a good response she just stopped posting. She let her website lapse. I feared the worst. But, she finally answered my e-mail. She said she was just putting CLL behind her. (What a wonderful outcome for her!)

Others just disappear without a trace, and I'm reluctant to e-mail them or search the obituaries. No news is good news, sort of thing. I suspect that most of the friends I've had with CLL (some of whom I've met in person) have passed away.

Really, I wish they'd have a loved one let us know what has happened. I know it might be difficult to let the rest of the world in on your grief. I've left instructions to my wife to write to various lists if and when I pass away. (It doesn't have to be from CLL, now does it? Car crashes kill over 40,000 people a year in the US.

One CLL memorial page is at: At least this page lets us know what happened to some of our CLL friends.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Am I going to watch the Super Bowl?

The occasional reader who drops in when searching blogs on the NFL or Michael Vick may remember that I am boycotting the NFL since that 'august' body signed Vick to a huge contract after he cold-bloodily murdered his own dogs.

One respondent to my post sharing the fact that I am not going to watch the NFL as long as they allow this monster to continue in gainful employment said that the loser Vick 'made a mistake'. Yeah, like, 'I was going to the store but I killed my dogs instead'? That kind of a mistake?

But, now, the Super Bowl (and all of the hype) is coming up. The evil Philadelphia Eagles and their degenerate former quarterback Vick aren't in it, so maybe I can break my vow and at least watch the commercials?

Naw. As compelling as the game might be, I just can't lend my eyeballs to the venal NFL, who obviously cares more about money than justice for animals.

Mr. Vick is reported to have electrocuted, strangled, and stomped his own dogs to death when they disappointed him.

He does not deserve anything good to happen to him for the rest of his sad and pathetic life. I hope he gets what he deserves in this world, or the next.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Since my unfortunate decision to undergo FCR (fludarabine, cyclophosphamide and rituximab), my neutrophil count has hit rock bottom, and pretty much stayed there. In fact, the low white blood count was the reason I only did four of the normal six cycles.

The neutropenia improved since January 2009, which coincided with the end of the four-cycle treatment. In the spring of 2009, I was on neupogen or neulasta for several months, with the low point being reached when my absolute neutrophil count plummeted to 106, well below the dangerous level of 500.

I did not need neutrophil support in the late spring, summer, and fall of 2009. However, beginning in late November, my neutrophils have dropped to dangerous levels again.

My counts are buoyed by the colony support factors neupogen/neulasta, with each course lasting 2-4 weeks. However, it may be that I am now neupogen/neulasta dependent, which is dangerous. Dangerous because artificially stimulating the production of neutrophils can lead to myelodysplastic dysplastic syndrome (MDS) or even the aggressive leukemia acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

I'm hoping and praying that this does not happen.

Other than boosting my level of exercise, I know of no way to increase the production of the stem cells that were damaged by FCR.

That is one reason I have soured on the idea of using FCR. A well-known (though I had not heard of it prior to researching marrow failure) side effect of fludarabine in combination is secondary MDS, more difficult to treat than de novo MDS.

Live and learn. Though the learning might be easier than the living, if things go against me.

Even without MDS, I am perpetually at higher risk for infection being frequently neutropenic.

Not a happy place to be in.

OTOH, the flavopiridol/Alvocidib is still apparently working, though the side effects associated with the drug has not. I am scheduled for the last treatment in this fifth cycle on Wednesday, February 3.