This past Wednesday (November 28), I got my preliminary biopsy results back. The report indicated that the bone marrow specimen was of “poor” quality, but in any event, concluded that there was no evidence of further progression of the disease. In fact, they were unable to find any bad leukemic cells (blasts) in the specimen. This means that I am responding very well to Gleevec. There are simply no words to express how happy I was at the news. I know that this is only one battle won, and that there will be many more battles before I win the war.
Although my leukemia is responding well to the medicine, my blood counts have taken a beating. I still have extremely low platelets, low hemoglobin and low WBC. This will have to be monitored closely. If either my platelets or hemoglobin go too low, I will need to get a platelet and/or a blood transfusion. Thankfully, these appear to be slowly inching back up.
Despite my positive biopsy results, and despite my low blood counts, Dr. Yee decided to up my Gleevec dosage back to 600mg. 600mg is the “standard” dose for advanced phase CML. I think she does not want to risk too low a dose, just in case it may cause premature mutations and resistance. Of course, the higher the dose, the more severe the side effects…medicine is always a balance between the greater of two evils.
Another issue I’ve been experiencing lately is extreme water retention, which is a side effect of Gleevec. If I eat at home, I try to maintain a very low salt diet, which helps with the water retention problem. If I have a meal at a restaurant, I am sure to wake up the next day with puffy eyes (piggy eyes) and an additional 5 – 10 lbs. of water weight. No kidding!
Finally, I got up enough courage this past Thursday and got my hair cut. I have never had such a short haircut in my life. As many of you know, I’ve been losing my hair over the past several months, slowly but surely. My hair loss is probably due to one of the medications that I was on, but which I am no longer on anymore. Not all of my hair fell out, but I would say about 75% fell out. Recently, I’ve also noticed some regrowth, which again is very good news. I know you are dying for me to post a picture of what I look like with my short “do” but I am not ready for that yet, as I am still playing around with how I can style it to not totally look like a dork (short haircuts just don’t work for my face shape). In the meantime, here is a photo I took of myself after my haircut but with a new hat that I bought. Enjoy!!!