Thursday, November 1, 2012


Time ChangeI suppose that I still look at Time Change as the time of year that we either gain an hour of sleep or lose one. I think many people think of the change between Daylight Savings Time and Standard Time in much the same way. Although after this many years it matters less than in years gone by, this year, I’ll consider Sunday’s time change with a little more interest. This year, “fall back” means that I will spend one more hour at home before heading to Houston, Texas.

I will leave for Houston on Sunday morning after I get up and tend to some family business. I’m heading to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I have an appointment Monday morning at 9am. All my records from Dr. Tan’s office have been forwarded and I’ll be carrying with me the original slides from my initial bone marrow biopsy.

In phone conversations with Dr. Tan, we decided that it was time for me to get a consultation from M.D. Anderson. While he initially was going to wait until after my December blood test was performed to make the decision, I advanced the decision because I’d rather do it this calendar year than start with a new deductible in January. So, after talking it over with Dr. Tan, I made contact with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The appointment process at M.D. Anderson is that I had to apply for an appointment. After they obtained my medical records from Dr. Tan and reviewed them, they determined whether they would accept me as a patient. After accepting me, they have contacted me several times and emailed me information. One item was a nine page medical history form to fill out. M.D. Anderson informed me that I had been assigned a doctor in the Leukemia Department and to expect to be in Houston for 3-5 days. The first day will begin with a detailed medical interview and then be filled with x-rays, lab tests, and bone biopsy or biopsies, etc.

M.D. Anderson is regarded by many as the leading cancer treatment and research center in the world. Many of the chemotherapy drugs and treatment protocols that oncologists use have been developed at M.D. Anderson. Its Leukemia Department is second to none. My doctor is a leading researcher and clinician in Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), which is my kind of leukemia. Apparently, he only treats patients with CML. I hope and pray that he has some good solutions for me.

When I was first diagnosed with CML, my oncologist, Dr. Tan, advised that I go to M.D. Anderson and try to get accepted in one of their clinical trials. I responded that I didn’t want to be experimented on. I asked him to treat me instead. I was familiar with clinical trials where they give the patient too high, too low, and experimental drugs…all in the name of research and trying to find precise treatment protocols. Well, I understand the need for clinical trials but I decided it wasn’t for me. Well, that was when I was forecasted to respond well to my chemotherapy drug, Gleevec. Now, that I’ve come out of remission I’m not so opposed if it might find a good treatment protocol.

While I don’t necessarily expect to be recommended to participate in a clinical trial, I really don’t know what to expect beyond the first day. After the first day of tests, I don’t know what else there is to do besides report back to me, unless they want to try some changes in my treatment. I know they have specialized tests which will help determine the probable further effectiveness of Gleevec on me, along with other chemotherapeutic drugs. Perhaps trying to isolate the best chemo drug for me is why I have to be there 3-5 days.

While I’m not thrilled to be going into another medical facility and I really dread the bone biopsies again, I’m hopeful that it will be worth it. Even at that, if I ever undergo a bone marrow transplant, it will be done at M.D. Anderson. I suppose I do fear that the doctor will recommend a more aggressive treatment regimen. Aggressive treatment regimens are generally not pleasant whether it’s cancer or most other medical conditions. I especially hope and pray that I don’t hear the recommendation for a bone marrow transplant. That is just a whole new mental stratosphere that I’m not ready to enter yet. But, I might have to get there in a hurry. It’s just an unfathomable option for me at this moment.

So, Sunday morning (or Saturday night) when you set your clocks back and change the batteries in your smoke detector, please say a prayer for my family and me.  Thank you!!

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