My most recent test measuring abnormal protein, taken the day before Thanksgiving, validated October’s strong interim result. Once again, my M-spike shows 0.1 g/dl. It is what it is, not perfect but damn good. My oncologist gushed with enthusiasm. These findings give me reason to expect a break from treatment of indefinite length.
I am not losing sleep over the cancer’s minimal presence. I don’t consider it a menace even if a regression awaits me in the future. Perhaps if it affected one of my kids, the threat would generate more anxiety.
The fact is, I feel great. My initial foray back into social activity went well. I survived a large Thanksgiving party with nary a sniffle. Instead of hugs, I exchanged fist bumps with my friends. Nonetheless, I remain under house arrest. My body strengthens each week but the vulnerability to infection persists. Now is not the time to play loose with the rules. The oncologist and I will talk more about expanding my horizons at our next appointment. He advised me to get a flu shot (I did) and continue with immune suppressed precautions: avoid crowds, wash hands obsessively, and get plenty of rest.
Actually, the cancer’s inescapable presence helps me maintain discipline. It’s the ultimate tag along, always whispering in my ear. Sometimes the news is good, sometimes not. Often, as is the case with many blood cancers, things are inconclusive. How nice it would be to stop thinking about it. However, boxing up this fixation and placing it in a corner of my mind’s closet doesn’t work. It clamors for attention. Acceptance seems the best solution. So, I write about it, figuratively holding its hand, and take this unwanted companion with me wherever I go.
I see the doctor again in early January. Then, an even more sensitive blood test will be part of the workup. The idea is to confirm that my cancer has stabilized by cross checking against another indicator. This test, called a free light chain assay, measures the ratio between two molecules identified with the malignancy. In essence, it establishes a baseline to gauge disease progression. From this, we can detect a relapse prior to my becoming symptomatic. Pretty cool, huh? I’ll now have a molecular snapshot of my illness. I love the science even though I’m the specimen.
I’ve learned that myeloma is a complicated, cunning disease. But this spotlight on its behavior provides us with some clairvoyance. For the next five weeks, I’ll mull over my health status. If my blood does test within established parameters, then I only need to see the doc every two or three months.
An online friend and fellow myeloma maniac, Nancy, said something relevant to all this in a recent post on her site: “You have every right to hope for the best possible outcome. Believe that you deserve it. Let your friends and family share the comfort and joy of hope.”
Dare I anticipate a drug free 2009? Absolutely, why not?