It’s been many weeks since we provided an update on Deb’s health and her battle with acute myeloid leukemia, one of the most challenging and low survival rate cancers. For the past weeks, we have been waiting for results from the donor cell infusion that took place on April 1st. Unfortunately, the procedure was not successful.
Deb has become more and more tired since that time and spends much of her time in bed or getting blood transfusions at Kaiser. This is very challenging for her as she has always lived a very active lifestyle dancing, bicycling and walking, etc. Deb has lost 40 pounds since this journey began further contributing to her weakness; she has difficulty walking without assistance. She is deeply missing her old life and being with all of you in the community.
Deb recently had another bone marrow biopsy and the results are similar to her last two biopsies. Her bone marrow has a condition called serous atrophy which means the fat cells and stem cells that should be there have atrophied and been replaced with a gelatinous substance. The biopsy also shows clusters of primitive cells that may or may not be leukemia. They may be baby stem cells that cannot grow because the marrow is not healthy. Stem cells need a healthy bone marrow supporting structure in order for them to grow. There is no benefit to doing another donor infusion now while Deb’s bone marrow is in this condition. Deb’s doctor said if she can gain about 25 pounds in the next 2-3 months, there is a chance that her marrow will recover. Then she could have the second donor infusion, which could take months to a year to determine its success; the chance of success is between 5% and 15%, assuming no complications.
Deb is trying very hard to eat more, but her stomach can only hold so much and then she sometimes has stomach pain. But she is eating significantly more than she was a month ago, so we hope her stomach is stretching and will continue to be able to accept more food. Her doctor has also indicated that this weight gain over the coming months is necessary if she is to have a chance of recovering. Deb is continuing to have platelet and red cell transfusions as needed – this is what is keeping her alive (if you’re not a blood donor, please consider becoming one!).
Deb has recently developed neuropathy (tingling and numbness) in her toes and feet, which is painful, uncomfortable, and makes it more difficult to walk. We are rubbing Deb’s feet daily with neuropathy oil.
Deb, Andy and I thank you all for your love and support.