I’ve charted some of the metrics from a few months of weekly CBC tests. Treatment in the clinical trial began the first week of September and outcome so far is both expected and good. Most of my blood counts have returned to where they were about 3-6 months before I started any treatment. The neutrophil counts have been the most stubborn and variable but they do seem to be rebounding now. The ipi-145 clinical trial (now in cycle 4) will continue open-ended for me so the values should hopefully continue to normalize.
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:
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.
Not exactly leukemia related but I spent the better part of the day getting checked out in the ER yesterday. Stones in my gallbladder first appeared on a CT scan a few years ago and I have lived with the part-time symptoms a pretty long time. Earlier this week, they (abdominal pain after eating anything) got much more acute and impossible to ignore. With my neutrophil count so low these days, I am at higher risk of infection so I couldn’t let it go unchecked. It looks like the gall bladder will be coming out before long and I have an appointment to discuss with a surgeon next week.