Tag Archives: bloodwork

I’m winning, Leukemia is losing!

Blood Counts

After 3 1/2 28 day cycles of treatment in this ipi-145 clinical trial, The trends from my CT scans and CBC tests are all pointing towards more normal blood counts and hopefully a partial remission. The WBC and Neutrophil counts show quite a bit of variability from week to week but they are trending in more normal directions. Can’t thank Dr Flinn and the team at Tennessee Oncology/Sarah Cannon Research enough.

Merry Christmas to Don!!!

A week off


Now that I’m in my 4th cycle of the clinical trial, I don’t have to make weekly visits to the clinic. This is the first week since August that I’ve not had to go in to Sarah Cannon for labs etc. Every two weeks for cycles 4 and 5 and then monthly beginning cycle 6. Woot!!!

Flow Cytometry

I got an invoice a few days ago for the latest series of flow cytometry tests. Unfortunately, these blood tests tend to be really expensive. This is a modern diagnostic method which counts individual cell types for genetic testing to classify a case of CLL and identify its potential prognostic factors via Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting (FACS). Here’s a good introductory video that explains the process.

This article also has some good basic info if you are interested. LINK

CLL Vocabulary Lesson

There are many words I use in posts here that I never used prior to CLL entering my life. May this glossary help understanding some of the alphabet soup of clinical terms that frequently appear here.

Anemia [n]: A pathological deficiency in the oxygen-carrying component of the blood, measured in unit volume concentrations of hemoglobin, red blood cell volume, or red blood cell number.
Antibody [n]: Any of various proteins produced in the blood in response to the presence of an antigen. By becoming attached to antigens on infectious organisms antibodies can render them harmless or cause them to be destroyed See also immunoglobulin
Bone Marrow Biopsy (BMB) [n]: The removal of a sample of bone marrow and a small amount of bone through a large needle. Two samples are taken. The first is bone marrow by aspiration (suction with a syringe). The second is a core biopsy to obtain bone marrow along with bone fibers. After the needle is removed, this solid sample is pushed out of the needle with a wire. Both samples are examined under a microscope to examine the cells and the architecture of the bone marrow.
Chemistry Screen [n]: A chemistry screen is a blood test that measures the levels of several substances in the blood.

  • Albumin.
  • Alkaline Phosphatase.
  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT).
  • Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST).
  • Bilirubin (total and direct).
  • Blood Glucose.
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen.
  • Calcium (Ca) in Blood.
  • Carbon Dioxide (Bicarbonate).
  • Chloride (Cl).
  • Cholesterol and Triglycerides Tests.
  • Creatinine and Creatinine Clearance.
  • Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT).
  • Lactate Dehydrogenase.
  • Phosphate in Blood.
  • Potassium (K) in Blood.
  • Sodium (Na) in Blood.
  • Total Serum Protein.
  • Uric Acid in Blood.

CBC (Complete Blood Count) [n]: A diagnostic test which measures:

  • The number of red blood cells (RBC count)
  • The number of white blood cells (WBC count)
  • The total amount of hemoglobin in the blood
  • The fraction of the blood composed of red blood cells (hematocrit)

CT Scan [n]: A computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body.
Immunoglobulin [n]: Any of a group of large glycoproteins that are secreted by plasma cells and that function as antibodies in the immune response by binding with specific antigens. There are five classes of immunoglobulins: IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM.
Lymphadenopathy [n]: Chronically swollen lymph nodes.
Lymphocyte [n]: Any of the nearly colorless cells found in the blood, lymph, and lymphoid tissues, constituting approximately 25 percent of white blood cells and including B cells, which function in humoral immunity, and T cells, which function in cellular immunity.
Lymphocytosis [n]: An abnormal increase in the number of lymphocytes in the blood.
Monoclonal Antibody [n]: Any of a class of antibodies produced in the laboratory by a single clone of cells or a cell line and consisting of identical antibody molecules
Neutropenia [n]: An abnormal decrease in the number of neutrophils in the blood.
Splenomegaly [n]: Enlargement of the spleen.
Thrombocyte (also known as platelet) [n]: A minute cell occurring in the blood of vertebrates and involved in clotting of the blood
Thrombocytopenia [n]: An abnormal decrease in the number of blood platelets.

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything.

What do I know now?


After completing two months (28 day cycles) of IPI-145 clinical trial, two CT scans, one (more) bone marrow biopsy and a lot of ekgs & lab draws the preliminary results are:
White Blood Cell Count ↓
Red Blood Cell Count ↑
Hemoglobin ↑
Neutrophil Count & Percentage ↑
Lymph Node Size ↓
Platelet Count ↑
Every trend is in the right direction and seemingly on the way to at least a partial remission (PR) from this CLL. Onward to treatment cycle #3. Happy dance time! 😀



PKMany military vets are familiar with the term KP or Kitchen Patrol. It’s not much fun but basic work that has to be done to feed the masses. Clinical trials on the other hand offer days filled with PK or Pharmacokinetics. Yesterday, I had a PK day. According to Webster’s, it means:

the study of the bodily absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of drugs.

What’s all that mean in English or practical terms? This drug I am taking (ipi-145) is being investigated for safety and effectiveness in treating leukemias and lymphomas so the drug company has to compile a LOT of data to make decisions about it for future phase 2 & 3 trials and ultimately to request approval from the FDA to market and sell the drug for general use. The first day of every 28 day cycle in the clinical trial, I have to go to the clinic for what amounts to a 10-11 hour day. First I arrive for 7am where my vitals are checked and basic blood panels are run (CBC, Chemistry and a baseline (before dosing) trial drug level sample is collected). Assuming there are no negative indicators in those panels, the trial drug will be administered about 1-2 hours later which is followed by successive blood draws and 3 consecutive EKG tests at 30, 60,120,180,240,360 and 480 minutes following. All those blood samples are sent off to the drug company primarily for them to measure the blood (serum) level of the drug at those intervals.


Wasn’t that exciting? No, not really but my goal in participating in this is 1. That I can regain my own health from CLL and 2.  That I can help this new drug come to market so that others in the future may benefit from this research and not have suffer through toxic and often ineffective chemotherapies.

The moment that really made our day was seeing Barbara, the bread lady. Nothing helps break up a long day like being offered some yummy home made treats!  🙂


ekg B2953-33

Tomorrow begins a new 28 day cycle (#2) for me in my clinical trial. I’ll be treated to a full day of hourly blood draws and ekg tests. It’s really not that bad; the blood draws come from an IV and the ekgs don’t hurt but it’ll still be a long 9-10 hour day at the Sarah Cannon DDU. They’re taking really great care of me and with any luck, we’ll get to see the Bread Lady again. Sheila’s already craving her goodies! 🙂

I also sent in my application today for Camp Bluebird; a special twice a year retreat for adult cancer patients. I am really looking forward to meeting and spending time with others who are also sharing this journey.

Keep on Truckin!

According to wikipedia, the phrase Keep On Truckin which came from Robert Crumb’s comic strip: “The strip’s drawings became iconic images of optimism during the hippie era.” Well, the hippie era is long gone but I have lots of reason for optimism. I visited the Sarah Cannon Drug Development Unit (DDU) again today.
The Good News: 🙂

Red Blood Cells, Hemoglobin, Neutrophil counts are all trending upward. Platelet count showed stable to mild improvement. White blood count remain kinda high but stable. All my lab values & vitals checked out positive and I am cleared to begin week four in this clinical trial (final week of cycle 1).

The Not So Good News: 😦

We missed the Bread Lady yet again. I did find an old newspaper article about her posted in the hallway and got a picture of it to share. I will be there all day next week and hope to catch up with her when she hands out yummy baked treats.


Another week on treatment

It has been three full weeks on the ipi-145 investigational drug now and I’m headed back to the DDU (drug development unit) for my weekly clinical trial check-in, exam and labs tomorrow. So far so good. What had long been swollen & painful lymph nodes no longer seem to be so tender; hopefully the drug is working. I am going to try really hard to catch up with the cherished “Bread Lady” of Sarah Cannon and share her story here. Thanks for stopping by.