June 24, 2012
By all measures of materialistic medicine, my dad is doing well. He recently went through another round of restaging. The big three month mark. Much of what can catastrophically go wrong occurs in that first 100 days post stem cell transplant. A big touchstone. By microscope. In looking at his bone marrow, no cancerous cells are seen. But it only takes a few of those evil buggers to set off a chain reaction. More sophisticated methods are employed. His bone marrow is also producing the various precursors to all those cells floating in the blood - red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets. They're all there. By CT scan. For CLL, they are looking for nasty lymph nodes which swell up with cancerous B-cells. He had a couple of smallish but not so pleasant looking nodes in his abdomen prior to the SCT. They are no longer apparent. They're gone. There may be evidence of a small clot in one of his pulmonary arteries but it's asymptomatic and small. Besides, he's already on the necessary anticoagulant drugs to treat pulmonary embolism. Just observe at this point. By those more sophisticated methods alluded to. I'm too tired from plowing through endless questions in preparation for my licensing exam to go into too much detail because while it's not rocket science, it's pretty danged close. In a nutshell, no evidence of mutations, mutants or chimeric monsters are seen. Good news since cancer is one big conglomeration of mutations. Also, for the two bone marrow cell lines tested - lymphocytes and myelocytes (both types of white blood cells to fight infection and whatnot) - my dad is 100% NOT HIM. He's completely whoever the donor was. No remnants of himself left. Strange metaphysical thing to be happy about but there it is. Misc He struggles with mild GVH which shows up as random but symmetric rashes. Irritating but at this point nothing to be terribly concerned about. Medically. Lifestyle, it's actually a royal pain in the [insert random body part here]. And not so nice GI disturbances. Good news is that it's not Clostridium difficile. Any bug that has "difficult" as part of its Latin name can't be good. Let me out it this way. The cutting edge treatment for C diff? Fecal transplant. Google it. It's exactly like what it sounds. Enough said about that bug.