Tag Archives: leukemia

Happy Thanksgiving

turkey-dinnerAs we celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in the US, I want to share my gratitude for this difficult but good year. In the middle of the hardships have been many blessings.

  • To my Lord Jesus and Father God for keeping me going each day and somehow always providing for all my needs
  • My family and friends for their unwavering love and support.
  • To the entire team at Sarah Cannon Research Institute / Tennessee Oncology / Sarah Cannon Center for Blood Cancers for helping start to beat this wretched leukemia into retreat.
  • To all my new friends and family at Middle Tennessee Camp Bluebird for their cheer, support and love.

Neutropenia (Not Neutrogena)


Neutrogena [noun]: A brand of glycerin rich soap.

My blood counts still continue to improve each week under treatment with ipi-145 – with the frequent exception of my neutrophils. They came in on my CBC today at a really unimpressive 1.9% (37% – 80% is considered normal) and a count of 490 per microliter (2000 – 7800 is normal). This means I’m neutropenic again.

Neutrophil Cell

Neutrophil Cell

What does that mean in English? Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell form a large part of your body’s immune system. Since most of them are away on vacation, basically, my risk of developing a serious opportunistic infection just went back up. 😦 According to Cancer.Net:


This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 4/2012

Neutropenia is an abnormally low level of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell. All white blood cells help the body fight infection. Neutrophils fight infection by destroying harmful bacteria and fungi (such as yeast) that invade the body. People who have neutropenia are at increased risk for developing serious infections because they do not have enough neutrophils to destroy harmful microorganisms that cause disease. Some degree of neutropenia occurs in about half of people with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy, and it is a common side effect in people with leukemia. People with neutropenia may lower the likelihood of developing an infection by paying close attention to personal hygiene, such as washing their hands.

I’ve never been big on using hand sanitizer but that has to change for now. If you see me wearing a mask, please don’t ask me if I’m robbing a bank.

San Francisco is turning into Gotham for a leukemia-stricken boy

batkid_270x315Awwww. Love this! 🙂 Please click the link to read the rest.

Make-A-Wish to turn San Francisco into Gotham for Batkid

On November 15, a darkness will encroach like the fog upon San Francisco. The City by the Bay will shed its usual image and become Gotham City, the fabled metropolis of Batman lore. An evil force will descend, attempting to wreak havoc on its citizens. But the forces of villainy will not prevail. Never fear, Batkid will be there.

The role of Batkid is set to be taken by Miles, a 5-year-old boy battling leukemia. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay Area is making his wish to become a superhero come true.

Miles will begin the same way as many superheroes, with a training session. An adult Batman will take Miles under his wing and teach him the ropes of saving lives.

What about Lymphoma?

CDR0000526538In the past few months, I’ve been writing a lot on here about blood cancer; specifically the leukemia I am battling. The other primary classification of blood cancers are called lymphomas. The difference between leukemias and lymphomas is subtle. I’m trying to inform along the journey so here’s some info if you are interested.

According to the American Joint Committee on Cancer’s (AJCC) most recent publication (the seventh edition of the Cancer Staging Handbook), any cancer that affects the lymphoid cells—lymphoblast, lymphocyte, follicle center cell, immunoblast, plasma cell—should first be described as a Lymphoid Neoplasm. From there, the question on the difference between leukemia and lymphoma becomes one of disease presentation.

  • If the disease only tends to affect circulating cells, it is considered a leukemia.
  • If the disease tends to produce tumor masses, it is considered a lymphoma.
  • If the disease presents both in the circulating cells and in a tumor mass, it is considered a lymphoma/leukemia.

Lymphomas are further subdivides into two main types. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s website:

What Is Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is the name for a group of blood cancers that develop in the lymphatic system. The two main types are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

In 2013, about 731,277 people are living with lymphoma or are in remission (no sign of the disease). This number includes about 172,937 people with Hodgkin lymphoma and 558,340 people with NHL.

Hodgkin lymphoma has characteristics that distinguish it from other diseases classified as lymphoma, including the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells. These are large, cancerous cells found in Hodgkin lymphoma tissues, named for the scientists who first identified them. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer.

NHL represents a diverse group of diseases distinguished by the characteristics of the cancer cells associated with each disease type. Most people with NHL have a B-cell type of NHL (about 85 percent). The others have a T-cell type or an NK-cell type of lymphoma. Some patients with fast-growing NHL can be cured. For patients with slow-growing NHL, treatment may keep the disease in check for many years.

I hope that helps. 😎 For more information, please contact the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Leukemia: Multiple Personalities


You hear a variety of alphabet soup ‘flavors’ when people talk about Leukemia. There’s AML, ALL, CLL, CML and some other less common forms. Even with the primary classifications, there are individual mutations which affect its prognosis and rate of growth. My particular mutation (Deletion of the 17p chromosome) makes my CLL much more aggressive and resistant to treatment than normal. I found this article from Mayoclinic.com that helps break it down. Here’s a snippet:

How leukemia is classified
Doctors classify leukemia based on its speed of progression and the type of cells involved.

The first type of classification is by how fast the leukemia progresses:

  • Acute leukemia. In acute leukemia, the abnormal blood cells are immature blood cells (blasts). They can’t carry out their normal work, and they multiply rapidly, so the disease worsens quickly. Acute leukemia requires aggressive, timely treatment.
  • Chronic leukemia. This type of leukemia involves more mature blood cells. These blood cells replicate or accumulate more slowly and can function normally for a period of time. Some forms of chronic leukemia initially produce no symptoms and can go unnoticed or undiagnosed for years.

The second type of classification is by type of white blood cell affected:

  • Lymphocytic leukemia. This type of leukemia affects the lymphoid cells (lymphocytes), which form lymphoid or lymphatic tissue. Lymphatic tissue makes up your immune system.
  • Myelogenous (MI-uh-loj-uh-nus) leukemia. This type of leukemia affects the myeloid cells. Myeloid cells give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet-producing cells.

Types of leukemia
The major types of leukemia are:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). This is the most common type of leukemia in young children. ALL can also occur in adults.
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). AML is a common type of leukemia. It occurs in children and adults. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). With CLL, the most common chronic adult leukemia, you may feel well for years without needing treatment.
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This type of leukemia mainly affects adults. A person with CML may have few or no symptoms for months or years before entering a phase in which the leukemia cells grow more quickly.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar fights CML

While I am battling CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia), there’s another chronic form of Leukemia out there called CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia). NBA Basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar is living with and managing CML via a cutting edge medication called Tasigna. Our blood cancers are essentially incurable but with modern research through clinical trials, drug treatments are emerging which allow us to live on with them. The results are truly changing and saving lives.