Tag Archives: marrow

Less Biopsy Pain

Leukemias are cancer subtypes of the bone marrow tissue and I’ve had two bone marrow biopsy (BMB) procedures performed so far; both the old fashioned way with a Jamshidi needle.

jamshidiIt’s barbaric but thankfully I was anesthetized each time. Many patients get it done w/o anesthesia and it is immensely painful to have done. There’s a newer, less barbaric product on the market called On Control that looks wonderful. The promise is a faster sample collection with less bone marrow biopsy pain. The only problem I’ve noted is you don’t generally get much opportunity to consult with the pathologist or interventional radiologist performing the procedure to request or ask if they use it. I’d love to talk to some patients who have had a BMB performed with one. Check it out.

The future of cancer treatment?

imageThe days of toxic chemotherapies may be slowly coming to an end as advanced research and clinical trials yield smarter drugs which interrupt specific metabolic and signalling pathways that ultimately allow the cancer/tumor cells to live and grow. In most cancers, the process of apoptosis or normal programmed cell death is broken. If this works according to plan, this drug compound, a PI3K inhibitor will do that for me and allow my bone marrow to get back to its normal job of producing new blood cells to replace those which have done their job and died – the way they were always supposed to. Please stay tuned.

Planetary Alignment

Sarah Cannon

The planets must have been a bit out of alignment yesterday. The calendar held a full day w/ 1 Dr visit, one biopsy w/ anesthesia and 1 set of CTAs (Computed Tomography Angiograms). At the last moment, the pathologist scheduled to obtain my marrow sample decided to have the biopsy guided by CT (different doctors, different part of hospital) which pushed the planned CTA procedure into scheduling peril.


I was released from the hospital three hours later than planned at 530pm and the imaging folks just one half mile away were supposed to wait for us. They didn’t but apparently they were nice enough left the doors unlocked. We set off an alarm upon entering. Some very friendly radiologists came up to investigate the alarm a few minutes later. They advised us to call the practice tomorrow and reschedule and I finally got to eat. :-).

The CTA is still needed to stage my CLL for the treatment/clinical trial scheduled to begin later this week. Until then, I am once again “nil per os”. Here’s to hoping the planets are in a little better alignment today.

Chapter One


Hi! I’m Don. I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (aka CLL) in September of 2011. Since then, we’ve done lots of bloodwork and a bone marrow biopsy in something known in clinical circles as “watch and worry”. We’ve steadily and patiently watched my white blood cell counts rise and my red blood cell & platelet counts fall.My lymph nodes have gotten pretty big and in general, I am fatigued and don’t feel really good most days.

Fast forward to August, 2013.

This week, my platelet count had fallen to 74000 so my oncologist Dr Flinn and I both agreed that it was time to begin treatment. I have a genetic mutation called short arm chromosone 17p deletion. FCR (Fludarabine + Cyclophosphamide + Rituxan) is the standard chemotherapy regimen for CLL these days but it’s not known to be all that effective in terms of achieving durable remissions for those of us in the 17p club. Without a bone marrow/stem cell transplant, this is not generally considered a curable cancer and managing it over the long term is what we’ll have to do. We looked at some new therapy options and I believe we found a good fit. It’s all unfolding really fast and in the last few days, I’ve enrolled in a clinical trial for a new B cell receptor pathway signalling inhibitor currently called ipi-145. I will begin treatment next week. We’re gonna drop-kick this cancer with zero mercy! This is where the story begins.