Monday, May 14, 2012

PCI-32765 at Day 90

I just returned from another quick trip to NIH (the National Institutes of Health) at Bethesda, Maryland, where they did the usual blood test and had a look at me to see how the clinical trial is going.

The short answer is: very well.

I feel quite well and still have so much more energy than I had back in January and February. And still no perceptible side effects---quite amazing for a cancer treatment.

A couple little oddities have popped up in the blood test results, though.

For readers not immersed in CLL science, I'll just say that the subcategories of blood test results are closely and regularly monitored. A lot of CLL cases are discovered during routine blood tests at annual physical exams, when a doctor says, "Hmmm, your white blood cell count is high. Let's have a closer look at that."

So there are subcategories like hemoglobin, hematocrit, platelets, lymphocytes, neutrophils, etc., etc.  When you have CLL (or the SLL variant), some numbers go higher than normal; some go lower.

The perfect cancer (or leukemia or lymphoma) treatment would be expected to push the numbers back toward the normal range.

The PCI-32765 has pushed my white blood cell count numbers steadily downward toward the normal range.  Good!  It has also pushed my hemoglobin and hematocrit numbers, having to do with iron and oxygen-carrying capacity to the rest of the body, steadily upward toward the normal range. That's why I feel so much more energetic than I did a few months ago.

But oddly, my platelets numbers have trended downward from the normal range  since mid-March. It's possible that the higher number back in mid-March was inflated by the transfusion I was given in late February. I'm not worried about it, but it was a bit unexpected.

My neutrophils number, though . . . it just registered an all-time low, and that isn't so good. What is a  neutrophil?  A key player in one's immune system. The normal range is 1.5--7.8.  Mine just registered at 0.9, down from 8.5 in mid-April and down from 4.9 in late February..

Dr. Farooqui, at NIH, says the human body is a dynamic up-and-down thing and not to worry. I am not crazy-worried about it, but if you see me avoiding handshakes, runny nosed-people, and crowds, I hope you'll understand.

Numbers aside, I feel better than I have felt in many, many months. It is so nice to look into the mirrow and recognize the face looking back at me---no swelling. And I can actually lay down and sleep!