There are two distinct phases to the treatment of AML. These are induction chemo which is used first to get rid of at least 95% of the leukemia in your bone marrow and blood. Followed by consolodation which is used to lower the chance of leukemia coming back.
My first two cycles of chemo are induction therapy, and a simple bone marrow biopsy at the end of cycle one confirms that I’ve been able to achieve my goal and am in remission. This is brilliant news and really bosts me as I get ready to go back into hospital for my next chemo -another eight days of induction.
The remission means that the leukemia cells have been banished and my own body is now able to once again produce the good white cells I need – so I’ve proven that I can ‘work’ again properly. Unfortunately only 50-70% of patients achieve remission with induction chemo, so I’m delighted with whats been achieved.
My next chemo is 8 days back in solitary – receiving the same two drugs as I’ve had before. This means we know what my triggers and side effects are and will be ‘all over’ them before they give me any problems.
The doc has explained that next steps will be consolodation therapy. This consists of 2 more 5 day cycles of chemo and possibly a stem cell transplant. This is needed to make sure that the leukemia does not come back – and of course is just as important – if not more so than the induction phase.
We don’t yet know if I will need a stem cell (what used to be know as a bone marrow) transplant. As I get to the end of induction, and once more data is available Doc J will make a call on this. Liz, the transplant co-ordinator is already out scouring the ‘high street’ for a good match for me in case we need to do one.
In the UK we are lucky enough to be part of a wider European network of donors so I could just as easily end up being gifted stem cells from Spain or Germany as Stornaway or Glasgow.
There are always more people required on the stem cell register. In the UK this is run by Anthony Nolan. They’ve told me that they recruit most from the young male population (under 30) as this group are most likely to have the quality and ‘strength’ of stem cells which achieve most positive outcomes. So all my young, male friends please do think about joining – its a simple blood test which could lead to the gift of life for someone like me.
Achieving remission has been a big and important goal and represents at least one elephant leg.
I’ve learned so much in the past few weeks. About myself – and my capicity to deal with stuff. About leukaemia and stuff I’d prefer never to have had to learn about to be honest. And about the big safety net which is my friends and family.
This grows bigger and stronger by the day. I will never forget how much comfort it gives me, knowing that if I fall off this rollercoaster there are so many folk underneath, hands joined and ready to catch me.
Thanks and love to you all. x