Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dawns Journey: Jan 27th 2011 1:40am

Dawns Journey: Jan 27th 2011 1:40am: "Today i have an appointment to visit with my oncologyst at City of Hope. I have been complaining of pain to him now for the last 8 months. I..."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18th, 2011

Hello! I just wanted to share with you that I just had another bone marrow biopsy today. This is where they go into my hip bone and take out a piece of marrow along with a piece of bone. They need to do this in order to find out if I'm still in remission or if my Leukemia has come back. It will take a few days for the Oncologists to verify the information and advise my doctor if all is well or if I need to be back in the hospital. Lets pray that those hospital days are gone for good.

Thursday or Friday will be the days I will be calling my doctor (if he has not already called me) for the out come of the biopsy. We should most certainly have an answer by no later than Friday for sure. I will of course be keeping everyone updated with the news, either good or bad. I am a little impatient for the news because it has been a while since my last biopsy.

I hope you are all having a good week. Tomorrow is Hump Day and the week will be half over. Lets plan on making a toast to good health Friday evening so we can all have a fabulous weekend.

Talk to you all soon.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Info about Leukemia

Living With Leukemia
by Carol Lewis (staff writer FDA Consumer)
It wasn't the flu-like symptoms that sent Neil Keller to the hospital one night in January 1995. It wasn't even the crippling back pain that left him virtually immobilized. It was the odd red stripe that Kathy Keller noticed running down the back of her husband's calf that prompted his sudden trip to the emergency room.
Following his evaluation, the physical education teacher from Frederick, Md., learned that the red stripe was a blood
"I hastily left our two young children in the care of their grandparents because Neil was being transported quickly by ambulance to a special
According to the American Cancer Society (
Survival is strongly linked to age at diagnosis and the type of leukemia. Fortunately, the overall five-year survival rate for people with leukemia has tripled over the past 40 years. In 1960, the rate was 14 percent. By the 1970s, it had reached 35 percent. Today, the overall five-year survival rate is 44 percent.
All forms of leukemia can be treated. In the last decade, several new drugs or new uses for existing drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat various types of leukemia. One of the most recent of these approved drugs--Gleevec (imatinib mesylate)--represents a new strategy in fighting one type of leukemia. It works by blocking the rapid growth of white blood cells.
But cancer experts say the best hope of a breakthrough that will greatly improve cure rates and duration of remission lies in understanding and controlling the abnormal molecular processes that lead to the development of all types of
clot. He also learned that he had leukemia and needed immediate medical attention.cancer center in Baltimore," remembers Kathy Keller. "It happened just that quickly."ACS), about 30,000 new cases of leukemia were diagnosed in the United States in 2001. And even though it is thought of primarily as a childhood disease, the ACS says that leukemia strikes more adults than children. Anyone can get it, and like many forms of cancer, its cause is unknown. Certain risk factors, such as genetic conditions or adverse environmental exposure, are believed to increase the chances of developing the disease.leukemia. liver and spleen Chemotherapy refers to the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is the main treatment for nearly all types of leukemia. Most of these anticancer drugs are injected through a vein (IV injection or intravenously), but some can be taken by mouth. Either way, the drugs enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body to kill cancerous cells.New TreatmentsGleevec demonstrated in trials that it substantially reduces the level of cancerous cells in the bone marrow and blood of people with CML. A new class of drug to fight cancer, Gleevec is different from other cancer drugs because it specifically targets an enzyme that causes cells to become cancerous and multiply in people with CML. It works by blocking the protein product that is responsible for transforming normal cells into cancerous ones. Gleevec provided a new cancer treatment for chronic CML after the failure of interferon-alpha therapy, CML in blast crisis, and CML in an accelerated phase.
After two years of study, Gleevec, manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., of East Hanover, N.J., appears to offer advantages over some other leukemia treatments: oral administration, tolerable side effects, and a high response rate.
The FDA's accelerated approval of Gleevec was based on the response rate observed in early clinical trials. Accelerated approval allows products for serious or life-threatening illnesses to reach the market sooner, based on clinical trials that have not yet demonstrated true clinical benefit, like survival or improved disease-related symptoms, but in which early results have indicated the drug is reasonably likely to have real clinical benefit.
James Foran, M.D., a medical oncologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and spokesman for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, says that CML occurs when pieces of two different chromosomes break off and reattach on the opposite chromosome, forming what's known as the "Philadelphia chromosome." This chromosome "translocation" leads to the enzyme being "turned on" all the time. As a result, potentially life-threatening levels of both mature and immature white blood cells occur in the bone marrow and the blood. "Gleevec shuts down the growth signals from the Philadelphia chromosome," says Foran, and blocks the rapid growth of malignant white blood cells.
But because the information from Gleevec clinical trials is still early, it is not known how durable the responses to this treatment will be. In fact, relapses following initial responses to Gleevec are now being reported.
Another class of drugs, known as differentiating agents, is used in treating APL. These drugs promote differentiation of the very immature leukemic white blood cells into more mature functioning cells. Two drugs in this class include Vesanoid (all-trans retinoic acid or ATRA), made by Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. of Nutley, N.J., which was approved by the FDA for first-line treatment, and Trisenox (arsenic trioxide), made by Cell Therapeutics Inc. of Seattle and approved for second-line therapy after ATRA treatment failure. These drugs have improved the prognosis of APL.
Mylotarg (gemtuzamab ozogamicin), another new type of leukemia drug, consists of an antibody against AML blast cells combined with a toxin to kill the cells. Mylotarg, manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals of St. Davids, Pa., the pharmaceutical branch of American Home Products Corp., was approved in May 2001 for treatment of elderly patients with AML who cannot tolerate more conventional chemotherapy.
Bone Marrow TransplantsBone marrow transplants offer some people like 44-year-old Tom Kochanowicz of Omaha, Neb., the best chance of survival and, in his case, a cure. Kochanowicz was diagnosed with CML at age 38 when his doctor detected a lump in his side. "Fortunately," he says, "mine was the slow-moving kind and initially was managed with medications to bring my white blood cell count under control."
However, Kochanowicz says the side effects of the radiation and chemotherapy treatments took their toll. "The aggressive treatment was wiping out my immune system," he remembers. Consequently, despite hopes that the drug treatments would conquer, or at least manage, his leukemia, Kochanowicz admits he had always known that his life ultimately would depend on a bone marrow transplant.
In this procedure, existing abnormal bone marrow is eliminated through radiation treatments or chemotherapy. Healthy marrow is then injected directly into the bloodstream in a procedure similar to a blood transfusion. The bone marrow migrates to and takes root in the recipient's bones, and the cells begin to divide. It generally takes about three weeks and sometimes longer for the transplanted bone marrow to start producing white blood cells to protect against infections, making the procedure quite risky. Healthy marrow may have been supplied either by the patient in the early stage of the disease, or by a donor. Only someone who has a compatible tissue type--ideally a close relative--can be a donor.
Both of Kochanowicz's brothers were perfect blood matches, giving him excellent odds for a full recovery. As the result of a successful transplant, Kochanowicz is now entering his sixth year of remission. Keller wasn't as fortunate.
"We were told that brothers and sisters were the best matches," says Kathy Keller. "But since Neil was an only child, we tested the kids, me, and his parents." Keller's father ended up donating the needed bone marrow.
A parent or child is able to donate needed bone marrow only about 1 percent of the time, says Edwin P. Alyea, a medical oncologist with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. As in Keller's rare situation, Alyea says, "When they can, that's very lucky."
He also says that unrelated donor registries make it possible for people to have blood matches outside their families. These registries increase the chances of finding donors based on ethnic background and other specific qualifications. But Alyea says that "more minorities need to contribute to the registries" and greater outreach is needed in these communities.
A major complication of bone marrow transplants is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) in which the transplanted marrow cells react against the patient's tissues; primarily the liver, the skin, and the digestive tract.
Despite surviving leukemia, Kochanowicz's last six years haven't been easy. His transplant experience included severe GVHD--for nearly two years he was unable to swallow, and a condition called scleroderma hardened the connective tissue in his skin.
Alyea explains that although a bone marrow transplant plays a key role in the treatment for certain types of leukemia, as a whole "it is basically an exchange of one disease for another. You're trading the disease itself, for which the treatment options and the chances of cure may be limited, for the possible complications of the transplant treatment," he says.
Alyea also says doctors have learned that patients who develop acute or chronic GVHD have a lower risk of the disease returning after the bone marrow transplant. "This demonstrates that the donor's immune system may play a role in cure," says Alyea. After a long and frustrating battle with the unpleasant effects of GVHD, Kochanowicz now manages his symptoms with medications, and admits that he feels better than he has "in a very long time."
Biologic TherapyA relatively new addition to the family of cancer treatments is biological therapy (sometimes called immunotherapy). Biological therapy uses the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight cancer or to lessen the side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.
Patricia Keegan, M.D., a deputy division director in the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, explains that the immune system is a complex network of cells and organs that work together to defend the body against foreign invaders. This network is one of the body's main defenses against cancer. For example, the immune system may recognize the difference between healthy cells and cancerous cells in the body, and work to eliminate those that become cancerous.
Biological therapies, says Keegan, are designed to repair, stimulate, or enhance the immune system's responses when cancer prevents it from functioning adequately. Some immune system substances can be produced in the laboratory for use in cancer treatments. But Keegan says that, although biological drugs can be effective in treating different types of leukemia, there are so few available because "they are labor-intensive--the development of blood products is a relatively young field that is still developing."
The FutureScientists are finding better ways to treat leukemia, and the chances of recovery keep improving. A physician who specializes in the treatment of leukemia is in the best position to discuss a person's prognosis and to offer the best course of treatment for a particular type of leukemia.
Survival rates may indicate how long groups of people may live. However, it's important to remember that statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. These numbers cannot be used to predict what will happen to an individual because no two people are identical, and treatments and responses vary.
More Than One DiseaseLeukemia is cancer of the blood cells. It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of developing bone marrow cells. It is not a single disease, but a group of malignancies in which the bone marrow and blood-forming organs produce excessive numbers of white blood cells. White blood cells develop from a type of cell in the bone marrow called a stem cell. When the process of white cell maturation goes awry, leukemia results. Immature white cells prevent the normal production of all blood cells, including white blood cells, which fight infection. In most leukemias, an increased number of cancerous white blood cells are produced, causing the lymph nodes, liver, or spleen to enlarge.
Leukemias are classified by the type of white blood cell that has abnormal growth and by how fast the disease is progressing. Acute leukemia can be fatal within weeks or months without aggressive treatment. Abnormal blood cells that remain very immature, called "blasts," increase rapidly and the disease worsens quickly.
Chronic leukemia may produce no symptoms for years. Some immature cells may be present, but in general, these cells are more mature than those in acute leukemia and are able to carry out some normal cell functions. The number of blasts increases less rapidly than in acute leukemia, and as a result, chronic leukemia worsens gradually. Chronic leukemia can become acute leukemia.
Leukemia can arise in either of the two main types of white blood cells--lymphoid or myeloid. Leukemia that affects lymphoid cells is known as lymphocytic leukemia. When myeloid cells are affected, the disease is called myelogenous leukemia. The disease can be categorized into one of four main types shown below, depending on whether it is acute or chronic and myelogenous or lymphocytic.
While both children and adults can develop leukemia, certain types are more common in one age group than in another. However, Keller was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), which is most prevalent among children, at age 31. Although he died less than a year later, Kathy Keller says that at the time the prognosis for people with ALL seemed good. "They said it was critical, sure--that Neil's condition was life-threatening," she remembers, "but we got lucky that the attending physician turned out to be someone who recognized the urgency in getting Neil immediate medical attention."
In addition to the four main types, there are sub-types of leukemia, such as acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), and hairy cell--a chronic leukemia in which the abnormal white blood cells appear to be covered with tiny hairs when viewed under a microscope.
Symptoms of Leukemia Some people with leukemia may not experience any symptoms at all and their first inkling of a problem could be the results of a routine blood test. Others, however, may complain of flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Other signs of leukemia can include:
easy bruising or bleeding
lymph node enlargement
bone pain
swelling of the abdomen due to an enlarged
increased susceptibility to infectionDiagnosisCommon blood tests, such as the complete blood cell count (CBC), as well as blood cell examination under a microscope, can provide the first evidence that a person has leukemia. Most people with acute leukemia, like Keller, will have an increased number of white blood cells, not enough red blood cells, and not enough platelets.
"Neil's white blood counts were as high as his doctor had ever seen," says Kathy Keller. "But he also indicated that Neil's type of leukemia had a 90 percent cure rate with a two-year treatment plan."
In addition to the CBC, a bone marrow test is frequently performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type of leukemia. Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue in the center of the bones that produces the white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Two kinds of tissue samples are taken for examination under a microscope and for special tests such as chromosomal analysis. In a procedure known as a bone marrow "aspiration," cells are withdrawn with a fine needle and syringe. A bone marrow "biopsy" involves taking a piece of bone with marrow inside, using a larger needle. Both samples usually are taken from the same site, generally on the back of the pelvic bone.
Other diagnostic tests could include:
removing and testing an entire lymph node
drawing fluid from the spinal cavity in the lower back (spinal tap)
measuring certain chemicals in the blood (to determine liver or kidney problems caused by leukemia or certain chemotherapy drugs)
using X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound imaging, to obtain detailed images of internal organs.Leukemia treatmentsMany people died from leukemia--often within months of diagnosis--before the advent of effective treatments. Now, many more are cured (usually defined as five or more years of disease-free survival).
The goal in treating leukemia is to achieve complete remission (all signs and symptoms of leukemia have disappeared, although there still may be cancer in the body) by destroying cancerous cells so that normal cells can again grow in the bone marrow. In remission, cancerous cells cannot be seen in the blood or bone marrow, but more therapy is needed to achieve a cure. Several areas of research have yielded new approaches to treating leukemia. But the kind of treatment given and the outlook for a person with the disease vary greatly, according to the exact type of leukemia the person has, and other individual factors.

Chemotherapy is given in cycles: a treatment period is followed by a recovery period. The process may be repeated. The duration of the treatment varies depending on the type of leukemia. Sometimes certain drugs are combined with others for a greater treatment effect. Unlike many people who show progress following chemotherapy, Keller periodically showed progress, but then relapsed.
"Neil responded well to chemotherapy for short periods of time," says Kathy Keller, "but he never went through a remission."
Most anticancer drugs are cytotoxic, which means they kill not only cancerous cells but also normal cells, particularly in the bone marrow. "The rationale of chemotherapy is that the normal cells are more likely to eventually survive the effects of chemotherapeutic agents than the cancer cells," says Amna Ibrahim, M.D., a medical officer in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Dawns Journey: Wednesday January 12th, 2011

Dawns Journey: Wednesday January 12th, 2011

Wednesday January 12th, 2011

Well here I am...wide awake at 4:20am. This seems to be the new sleeping pattern I have given into. I will sleep again after I eat breakfast and take my morning pills. This is very routine since the pain I have from the side effects of my perscription pills causes me close to the same pain I was in before my diagnosis of Leukemia. I have to take a strong pain killer just so I can numb the pain enough to be able to have some kind of a life.

The doctor says the pain wont last forever but, he is putting me back on this drug called Sprycel which supposedly helps to keep the Leukemia from coming back. My problem with it is that the side effect of this pill is reumetoid arthritic pain in mostly all of my joints. This is something I am already dealing with even when Im not taking this Sprycel. My doctor keeps taking me off the Sprycel to try to give me a little bit of relief and 1 to 2 weeks later he will put me back on it again.

Doctor Parker wants me onthe Sprycel more today because during my last two visits my platelet counts have been very low. He cant figure out why so he has also requested another bone marrow biopsy for the 18th of this month. A bone marrow biopsy is when they go into a large bone, preferably to them its my hip bone. They then try to suck out any bone marrow. Since I have not had a biopsy since August of 2010 and I have been in remission, the doctors are hoping to find that the bone marrow in my bones has grown back and is still Leukemia free. If not, worst case sinario is its hard to pull any bone marrow and I am once again infected with the Leukemia. Then I would no longer be in remission and could possibly move back into the hospitol.

Im not sure as of yet what the treat ment would be for me if the Leukemia came back since I have already had all the radiation one human body can tollerate in this life time. Im assuming the doctors would give me another large dose of Chemo for a few days and might allow for my sister to donate her stem cells again once the chemo worked. The chemo would have to have had killed all of the Leukemia cells before they would start to reprep me for more blood stem cells. I would also have to be free of any illness and so would my sister as my stem cell donor.

To anyone who reads this blog:

 I would recomend that if you have any questions regarding Leukemia and Stem cells or anything else, please please feel free to ask me. I do not mind answering these questions. Maybe you can come up with a question I myself have not thought to ask yet.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Hello everyone! I'm sorry for the delay in posts. I have been busy and exhausted. I am now down to 2.5 mlg of prednisone a day and it is really effecting my activity levels. I went to the store yesterday and bought vitamin B-12 for energy and another vitamin glucosamin for joint pain. It has been hurting to walk in my feet and knees lately. Not sure if that's a side effect of the prednisone or what??

I am visiting with my grandmother in Canyon Lake this weekend. She is finally starting to feel her age...90! I hate it for her because she has all the same aches and pains I do and her energy level has gone way down. Walking down the hall way is wearing her out. I have been trying to take care of her the best I can. We went to Red Lobster last night for dinner and met up with my cousin Natalie. That was nice, but grandma was having a dry eye issue and her saliva glands are not producing saliva so it was hard for her to eat the dinner she was very much craving.  She ended up bringing the whole meal home. She made us chocolate milk shakes. That was her dinner. She says she has not been eating very much lately so I am worried. I  will be in contact with her neighbor friend to constantly check in on her since she is unwilling to move where her family is closer and able to care for her. That's my grandma for you. Strong and stubborn. I don't blame her though. Her home is paid for. She and my grandfather both built and designed the home and she has lived here over 30 years. I would not want to leave my home and my memories either.

I would love to be able to buy the home after she passes just so we can keep the house in the family. We do have a ton of memories in this big house and it would make a great vacation home for our family members in the summer time. Its dream. With our economy the way it is, I don't know if I will ever be able to afford a home and now with alll the medical bills. OMG!! Hospitals are very expensive and I have been in 4 of them!! My suggestion to everyone.... Don't go to the hospital!! Just kidding. You know what I mean.

Tomorrow night I will be doing a fundraiser for Leukemia called Light the night. Its at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and the walk starts at 7pm. My mom made me a really pretty glass lantern with a leukemia ribbon and a butterfly on the front. She is very talented. I love her so much. she has gone above and beyond for me and so many other people struggling with Leukemia. I tell her thank you all the time, but it just does not seem like enough. Everyone has gone above and beyond for me and I can tell you all Thank you but I wish there was so much more I could do. I am extremely grateful to everyone and even people who have donated to NFT on my behalf that I don't even know. People who have just driven by a sign posted on a fence at some intersection. Wow!! you people are amazing!! Thank you soo much!!

Saw my Dr. at The City Of Hope on Thursday. He says I am looking really good and so is my health. My blood counts are good and I don't have any new sicknesses. I cant wait to get my immunity shots so i don't have to be so cautious around people. They will be available to me April 30th 2011. 1 year from my stem cell transplant. Last week I had to have an infusion of fluids through my vain for osteoporosis. They poked me 4 times in my right arm and could not get the needle in a vain so they moved to my left wrist and now I have this giant purple bruise on my wrist. I had a fall last week too. I was walking with my dad and my legs just stopped on me but my body kept going. I scraped my knee and have like 6 bruises on my legs. I look like someone beat me up. I consider them my conversation pieces!! LOL!

  • Ok, enough for now. I can keep going and going but Im sure if you wanted to read a novel you would just do so with a book of your choice. Who knows.. Maybe i will combine my blogs and my sisters and make a book. Ooooh that would be fun! Would you buy it??

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday 9-12-10

Hello. Well I did type up a really long blog on Thursday but for some reason the site would not post it. Today I went to church with my parents and had a great time. The music was perfect. I hate cheaseball christian songs. The singer had a great voice and she made the lyrics very inviting to sing. After church my parents and i went to steamers in fullerton to see my brother play in this upbeat older jazz band. He plays the big stand up base and is really good at it. We ate there. I had a tuna sandwich which would have been more tastier with a bit more mayo mixed into the tuna salad and the white bread was kind of dry. My mom had a BLT but they put no dressing of any kind on her sandwich so hers was completely dry. My dad had a ham panini wich he took forever to eat and that is unlike him. We left after we ate. I dont think we will be eating there again, but atleast the band was good. :)

After Steamers I drove to my friend Carries moms house to celebrate her eldest daughters bday. She is turning into a beautiful young woman. Daddy needs to put her on lock down ASAP!! LOL!!  I took care of carries moms dog and cat last week so she wants to take me out to lunch on Tuesday. Im looking forward to it. Its at one of the new restaraunts in the LA Fitness shopping center. Im a foody soI cant wait to see what they have on the menu.

Friday I made Cappolini Pomodoro and chicken Parmesan for everyone at work. It was a hit! The friday before i made italian caprese salad with pinwheel pasta and have made 6 more times since. you can eat it warm, hot or cold and you poor olive oil and vinegarett over the top of it. Sprinkle romano cheeze and chopped up tomoatos with fresh mazzerella balls and basil. This is an excellent picnic dish gentlemen!!

So who is up for the San Antonio Church Fair next weekend??

ok, its late. I need to get up early to help my dad get out of the house and to his 9am meeting. I will walk the dogs and then make the coffee and make his egg and cheese burrito for the road. Anything i can do to help make his day and my moms day a little simpler. They already do way to much for me and this is my way of repaying them. Keeping my room clean and cleaning up after myself. By about 2pm I will be wiped out and passed out on the couch. I tell you, I can be so much fun but when the narcalepsy creeps in I have no control. Its night night for Dawn. LOL!!

Well, I wish you all a great Monday! Talk to you soon!