Hitting the Reset Button

My Routine Check Up
Yesterday, June 3rd, I had my routine checkup.  I did my routine check up things (blood draw, weight, vitals, general chit chat) and then waited in a routine manner in the exam room.  When Dr. Cripe walked in, I didn’t notice the extra person he had brought with him.  I started my routine conversation of what has been going on and describing one issue I wanted to talk about.  I looked up and noticed that Dr. Cripe didn’t have a routine look on his face.  Well Duck (or something close to that).

My Non Routine Day
“Rob, I’m very sorry to say that your blood counts are down.  I also see abnormal cells on your blood slide.  I can say with certainty that the leukemia has returned.”

That my friends kicked off my non routine day.  I made a call to Lindsey so she could come join me.  Dr. Cripe and I briefly talked through option and outcomes.  He wanted to know if I needed time to think about next steps.  Time?  Let’s get this show on the road.  I told him whatever we needed to do, I wanted to do and I didn’t want to wait on anything.  Whatever it is, let’s just do it.  With that we proceeded to the bone marrow aspiration room where he drilled into my hip and chipped some marrow from my pelvis (it hurts worse than it sounds)

What Might Have Been
Let’s not beat around the bush.  None of us wanted to be here.  I had planned on writing an update this Saturday, which would be my 2.5 year anniversary.  2.5 years towards my cure date.  I had planned on talking about how all was going well.  How I was in South Bend to watch my sister cross the finish line in a marathon she is running in my honor.  I had planned to hold all of you accountable to the party we were going to have on December 6th, 2017.  That party is still on folks, we’ve just had to hit the reset button on the date.  The new data is June 3rd, 2020 (and quite honestly, summer works better for me anyway)

My Somewhat Routine Plan
Relapsed Leukemia is not a good thing.  Many people achieve remission but only half stay in remission.  Those of us who don’t stay in remission get a 2nd chance with another dose of chemo and a stem cell transplant.  The things going in my favor is that I am still relatively young and that I was in remission for 2.5 years.  This means the leukemia cells were pretty responsive to the chemo cocktail the first time.  However since they came back, it also means they may not be as responsive this time.  That is why the stem cell transplant is necessary.  I could go into remission again via chemo, but that remission wouldn’t last.  I need to receive chemo, achieve a 2nd remission and then receive a stem cell transplant.  That is the most routine path for someone who has relapses.  If that doesn’t work, then I would need to participate in clinical trials.

This battle will be longer than the last one.  Last time I was in and out of the hospital for 8 months.  This time I won’t be hospitalized as long, but a stem cell transplant is nothing to joke about (although I will try).  Typically people do not return to normal life for up to a year after a stem cell transplant.  Here’s a high level overview of the plan:

6/4: Admitted for 4 days of chemo
6/8: Stay in hospital for 1-4 weeks to recover
8-12 weeks from now: Get a stem cell transplant
Sometime after that: Return to a normal life having kicked cancer’s ass a 2nd time

So What Now
First and foremost, pray.  I know many of you will wonder how you can help.  Quite honestly, I don’t know yet.  I am in planning mode right now for the immediate future and long term future.  I need to figure out my disability payments, ongoing insurance, childcare, etc.  I’ll post at some point over the next few days on the best ways to help.  Until then (and even after then) please pray and tell others to pray as well.

More to come in the next 24 hours…

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