February 9, 2017
Has it really been six months since Patrick started treatment for Mantle Cell Lymphoma? Wow. That’s so strange to me. Because on one hand, life goes on and time continues to race by at lightning speed. But on the other hand, I hardly remember what it was like “before cancer” and it feels like a loooong six months. Not to mention, I am pretty sure I’ve aged more than I should have this year. #greyisthenewblack.
How many miles logged to and from Houston?
How many sleepless nights?
How many carrots bought and juiced?
I can tell you this, we are single-handedly keeping Sprouts in business.
This week we went to Houston for a big appointment. Patrick had a PET scan on Wednesday and we met with Dr. Wang and the research team on Thursday morning. We didn’t expect to hear anything spectacular though. We figured they would say that he’s doing well, but not quite “there” yet and we’ll recheck in two months.
Then, dear sweet adorable Onyeka walked in. She is Dr. Wang’s PA and she is about to have a baby. Like, any second now. We told her how great she looks and how surprised we were to see her because we thought for sure she’d be on maternity leave. We were complimenting her and saying congratulations and she was laughing while rubbing her perfect, volleyball-sized belly. We were chatty and nervous and talking over each other. I asked her if she knew what she was having.
And she casually says this …
It’s a boy and yes, he should be here any day now. So your PET scan was negative for any signs of cancer. Congratulations.
Rewind. Repeat. Did you just say the PET scan was clear? Did you just tell a cancer patient congratulations?
Big exhale, big smile, big hugs. And then she left the room and we probably won’t see her for a while. So enjoy this photo of Patrick and Onyeka right after she told him the good news.
Maria came in next and then Dr. Wang. Everyone was happy but we moved straight on to the details and the business of planning for what happens now.
In a nutshell, here is what the next six months looks like —
Late February – repeat bone marrow aspiration to check and see if MCL is still present or “resolved.” If the bone marrow isn’t clear, then continue with the infusions and Ibrutin regimen for another two months before re-checking.
late March – If the bone marrow was clear of MCL, then a super-fun, repeat colonoscopy, because there were minimal traces detected back in August.
April – If both the bone marrow and the colonoscopy are clean, Patrick will have achieved a “complete response” with the Ibrutin immunotherapy and the Rituxin infusions.
That would mean part two begins. Because mantle cell lymphoma has a tendency to resurface, part two consists of four rounds of HYPER-CVAD chemotherapy. This is basically to nuke any MCL cells that are undetectable, so they don’t come back. So he stays in remission. Forever. Part two will take about four months. Each round is one week of inpatient chemo at MDA, then three weeks at home.
They don’t like to order those last two tests unless they are confident that they’ll come back negative for MCL, because obviously they are not fun and you don’t want to have to keep repeating them. That’s why he did infusion #7 yesterday even with a clean PET scan, and he will do his 8th (and hopefully final) infusion mid-March to help get those last test results where we want them.
I hope that helps answer some questions. We haven’t shared many updates in the last month because we were just pushing through a busy time and really didn’t have anything new to share.
But this was a GREAT week and we are definitely celebrating this milestone!!
Thank you for following along and keeping us in your prayers, and for checking in on us. We are so grateful for you!!