Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hi everyone - obviously it's been a while since I have posted anything - the last month or so has been a big blur. This round of chemo was much harder to go through and I had many more side effects to deal with. However, it's all worth it since this round worked. I'm still extremely tired and having some nausea - I'm not feeling as good as I did after the first round, but again this round worked so I can deal with it. The most frustrating thing is that most foods just don't taste like they should - I'm sure anyone who has had chemo before can relate to this. Fruit and clam chowder seem to be the exception - very odd.

I have an appointment with Dr. Moore on Thursday to have another bone marrow biopsy to make sure the Leukemia hasn't returned. We will also probably be planning a "consolidation" treatment for sometime in the next week or two. This is basically a shorter chemo treatment that is used to keep my body in remission. It should only require a 3-4 day hospital stay unless I have any fevers. If all goes well the bone marrow transplant should take place in 6-10 weeks. So that is the plan for now.

Thanks for all of your prayers, cards, emails, comments, ect.,


Sunday, March 29, 2009

The big news for the day is that Amy was released from the hospital this afternoon. Her white blood cell counts have come up a good bit so they felt comfortable releasing her. We are not really sure what will happen next. We are waiting to hear from the doctors early this coming week. Depending on how things go with the donors, Amy could either be heading soon for the bone marrow transplant or she may end up having to have another chemo treatment (although if that is needed it should not be as tough as the past two).

Friday, March 27, 2009

We got some good new from Dr. Rizzieri's office about possible bone marrow donors yesterday. The PA from his office who is in charge of the donor search called and talked to Kathy. She informed her that they have selected 3 possible donors for further testing. One of these possible donors has actually previously been tested more extensively and it turns out that they are a perfect match to Amy. This of course is great news. They still will further test the other two donors as they like to have as many options available as possible.

The next step is to wait for Amy's bone marrow to make new cells. The increase in white blood cells as reported yesterday is a start. What they want to do is give her body some more time to make cells and then they will do another bone marrow biopsy. The point of the last biopsy was to see if the chemo worked. This next biopsy will be done to see if Amy's body is making normal cells or more leukemia cells.

If things look good with the next biopsy and the donor search gets finalized then plans for the transplant will start to be made.

Amy is still running a fever off and on. She is very tired from lots of medications. Let's hope she gets rid of this fever soon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Amy is still battling this fever. She continues to be rather tired. This is probably due to the combination of the fever and lots of medications. She also has been dealing with a rather vexing cough. Her blood results for today showed the first increase in white blood cells. She still has a way to go, but at least there is some progress.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Last night Amy developed a little fever. They have since put her on two antibiotics. Her getting the fever is no big surprise, with her blood counts so low the doctors fully expected her to get a fever at some point.  She has been a little worn out as you usually do when you have a fever, but she has been able to rest well.  

We did get the final results from the bone marrow biopsy that she had Friday and we can happily say that the bone marrow was clear of any leukemia cells.  

She will continue to be in the hospital for another week or so at which point she should be able to go the apartment and stay for while.  The next step is to wait until a donor is found.  

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not a lot of news to report. Amy is feeling pretty good. Her eyes are slowly staring to feel better. She continues to be frustrated over the fact that nothing tastes like it should taste. Almost everything she has tried to eat she has not liked because nothing tastes normal to her. She did have another bone marrow biopsy yesterday morning. We are still waiting to hear results from this and may not know anything until sometime next week.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today was a pretty good day for Amy. She rested well last night and some this morning. She even felt good enough to talk a short walk today. Food and drinks are finally starting to have a more normal taste. She is still eating bland foods and small portions. She is really looking forward to having some good food in a few days. The only problem she is having right now is that her eyes are really dry. Not exactly sure if this is a side effect from the chemo or if it is because she has been a little dehydrated. Regardless of what it is from, it is quite annoying as she can only keep her eyes open for a little while at a time. Other than her eyes being dry things continue to go well.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Amy has started to feel much better the past day or so. She sat up in bed all day yesterday and was able to eat a few popsicles and some Jello. They have finally got her nausea under control so that is a big help.

We did receive some good news about the bone marrow donor search yesterday. They called and told us that their preliminary searches have come up with a few possibilities of donors. The next step is for them to do more extensive testing of the donors to see how good of a match the bone marrow will be. We are still at least a few weeks off, before we know for sure if they have found a good enough match.

Along these lines, Kelly Vess has been doing a lot of work organizing a bone marrow drive. While this drive will not directly be of help to Amy, we feel that it is very important to try and get as many donors as possible on the national registry. We will keep you up to date as we get more details.

The plan continues to be to wait and watch Amy's blood counts rise. Talking with the doctor this morning it seems like it is their plan to keep her here in the hospital for possibly another 20 or so days. Unlike UVA, Duke feels that it is best to keep leukemia patients in the hospital for a longer time after treatment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Amy has been pretty worn out the past couple of days. She had also been having quite a bit of nausea. They have been good about trying to keep her nausea under control. The medicine that seems to works best makes her rather tired, so she spends most of her days sleeping. The last dose of chemo was finished yesterday around lunch time. Now that the chemo is over, her blood counts should start to recover and she should start to feel better. We will continue to keep you up to date on any major happenings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Amy has been rather tired all day today. This is probably a combination of the chemo itself, the fact that she has had a little bit of nausea and the medicine they give her for it makes her sleepy, and finally she doesn't have much of an appetite so she has had very little to eat.

Amy got a special visitor today named Gus. Gus is a golden retriever and he is part of the pet therapy program. Gus came in and got up on Amy's bed and when it was time for him to leave they had to pull him off of the bed.

The ninth of twelve bags of chemo was started just a couple of minutes ago, so the end of this treatment is in sight.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

So there's not much to report today. I'm still feeling good. I will probably have some side effects (nausea) in the next few days but so far so good. I haven't had to deal with the pain from having my central line put in or indigestion like last time so that has made this time better so far. It is also nice that since I don't have chemo a full 24 hours a day they unhook me from my IV pole between treatments. The new chemo drug that they are giving me is a very pretty "Duke" blue. Although the doctors assured me that they're not just giving it to me because I'm at Duke (:

I heard that the event at church last night was a great success and wonderful evening for all who attended. Again, the support I have been shown is just amazing and I thank all who were involved.


Friday, March 6, 2009

So I am sitting in my cozy new room at the Duke University Hospital. It's a little smaller than the BIG room I had at UVA but I have to say the bed is more comfortable. However, it is yet to be determined how the Duke hospital food will compare to that of UVA (the most important factor or course). I feel very comfortable so far up on the oncology/hematology wing. The nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors have all been very welcoming so far.

I will start my next round of chemo tonight around 9:00. They are giving me two chemotherapy drugs. One of them is one that I received at UVA but they are giving it to me in a higher dosage over a shorter period of time. Instead of receiving it constantly for seven whole days I will have two one hour treatments a day for six days. This can make a difference in how the Leukemia reacts to it. The second drug is a new drug that I will get once a day for the first three days. Hopefully these drugs will kill off all the leukemia cells in the bone marrow this time.

We also have a new mailing address for our townhouse here in Durham:

104 Lochridge Dr.
Durham, NC 27713

As always thank you, thank you, thank you!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hello everyone! Things are going well here at Duke. I'm still feeling great and ready for the next phase of my treatment to start. We found out today that I will be going into the hospital on Friday for the next round of chemo. This will again be a seven day regimen and I will be in the hospital the whole time. Like at UVA they are hoping to get me out of the hospital as soon as possible after the treatment as long as my fever stays down. However, this time I will be going "home" to a townhouse we are going to rent instead of the lovely Red Roof Inn Resort (: - Friday will be a busy day with me going into the hospital and Michael is also moving into the townhouse. However, we are very excited we found something to rent so we will feel more at home here in Durham.

Now to the more important part of my post. I've learned many things during this experience of having Leukemia and one of them is to appreciate being from a small town!!!! You guys have banded together behind me in ways that I could not have ever imagined and your support helps me keep this positive attitude that I keep getting comments on. I hear Cucci's was amazing yesterday both in the number of people who turned out and also the atmosphere. If only I could have been there. Thanks to everyone who came to eat or called in orders. A special thanks to Mrs. Proffitt and the AHS Key Club! A special special thanks to Victor Cucci and the rest of the staff. I will have to come meet you and thank you in person when this is all over. I just can't say thank you enough.

Hope everyone is well!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Hello from Durham! So we have had QUITE a busy day today. We met with lots of great people at Duke that made us feel like I was an important patient. The individual attention was very impressive from such a renowned hospital.

So our plans for the next portion of my treatment have changed a lot. We have decided to stay here at Duke for treatment. Dr. Densmore and the staff at UVA are excellent but we feel like we can get prepared for the bone marrow transplant better here. Also Michael will be working for a chemistry professor at UNC while away from Purdue and this will give him the opportunity to get more work done. I feel really comfortable here and so far am happy with our decision even though it takes us a little further away from friends and family (but remember at least I'm not at IU in Indy).

The first round of chemo I had didn't quite do the trick. There are still some leukemia cells and so I will be taking a second round of stronger chemo starting either the end of this week or beginning of the next. I handled the first round well and I'm ready to face more - I pray that it won't be too bad. We also found out that this process of chemo/bone marrow transplant/recovery will take about a year so we'll be in the great state of North Carolina for a while.

I feel like I am in great hands here at Duke. My main doctor will be Dr. Rizzieri and I was very impressed and comfortable with him today. I had to have another bone marrow biopsy which he made me feel very comfortable through (although don't get me wrong it still hurt). The reason for the biopsy was to confirm that there are still leukemia cells in the bone marrow. The blood work suggests that this is the case but they still want to confirm it.

As always THANK YOU for EVERYTHING!!! Keep praying and I know I will beat it!


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hi everyone (this is Amy) - we are in Durham ready for my appointment tomorrow at Duke which is at 8:30. I'm still feeling really good but the trip down did tire me out even though I was just riding in the car. They say the appointment will last 4-6 hours in order for the doctor to go over my history and maybe run some tests. So hopefully we will have more information on what the next few months hold tomorrow. Thanks for all cards, comments, and especially prayers.