Beating the Odds
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
2M ago
A recent study found that the five-year survival rate for patients with AML who are aged 60 and older and who have had both chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, is around 10%. I am one of the lucky ones.  I am eight years post-chemo and post-stem cell transplant.  The preliminary results of my latest bone marrow biopsy show that there is no MRD (measurable residual disease).  Am I cured?  I don’t think they ever use that word with AML.  Are my odds of survival a lot better than 10%?  Absolutely.  Although my immune system is stronger now than it has ..read more
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Taking Off the Training Wheels Seven Years After My Transplant
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
1y ago
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. As they say, no news is good news. I’ve been taking the immunosuppressing drug Tacrolimus (“Tacro”) for the past seven years. Tacro is often given to stem cell transplant patients to tamp down graft versus host disease (GvHD). GvHD is a condition in which the newly transplanted immune system has trouble telling friend from foe and attacks the patient’s organs. The problem with being immunosuppressed is that you are susceptible to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections that would not threaten a person with a normal immune system. For that reason, I’ve been ..read more
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Vaccine Booster May be in the Offing for Stem Cell Transplant Patients
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
3y ago
Between 3 and 4% of Americans are immunocompromised. People with HIV, recipients of organ transplants, cancer patients and others whose immune systems may be challenged are at increased risk of infections that could be deadly for them. Covid-19 has been a special concern for them. As a leukemia and stem cell transplant survivor, I take a daily dose of tacrolimus (Prograf) to suppress my transplanted immune system so that it doesn’t run wild and attack my organs. The Covid-19 vaccines have been a huge success in protecting people with normal immune systems. What is not known is whether the vacc ..read more
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Too Soon to Celebrate? Covid-19 Vaccinations and Immunosuppressed Patients
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
3y ago
I celebrated my recent Covid-19 vaccination by tearing up the “Do Not Enter – Immunosuppressed Person Inside” sign on our front door. I assumed that I had 90% immunity now that I had my second dose of the Moderna vaccine in my arm. It turns out I may have celebrated too soon. Like 11 million other U.S. residents, I am taking a medication that suppresses my immune system. Some leukemia survivors like me underwent a stem cell transplant and take tacrolimus or a similar drug to tamp down our immune systems. Other patients have undergone a heart, lung, or kidney transplant and take anti-rejection ..read more
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Post-Transplant Azacytidine Study Shows No Benefit for High Risk AML
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
3y ago
I volunteered to participate in a study at MD Anderson to see if 12 months of Azacytidine chemotherapy following a stem cell transplant would improve relapse free and overall survival. A report from that study ot onesuggests that there is no benefit in taking Azacytidine post-transplant. That’s a disappointment since it was not very comfortable getting Azacytidine injections in the belly five days in a row every month for a year. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. That’s how science works. Onward and upwards my friends ..read more
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Premature Celebration.
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
4y ago
I celebrated last week.  The preliminary results from my recent bone marrow biopsy came back negative. After more than four years of remission, it is still cause for celebration when your bone marrow biopsy comes back negative. It turns out I celebrated too early.  I should have waited until all of the test results were in. Two days ago my local oncologist broke the news that the next generation sequencing (NGS) test that analyzes DNA for abnormalities in 177 genes found a low level neoplastic myeloid clone of the DNMT3A,  TRAF3, and SETBP1 genes in my bone marrow.  The DNM ..read more
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Ignorance or Selfishness?
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
4y ago
I am amazed by the number of our fellow citizens who refuse to wear masks in public to protect others and themselves during this pandemic. I was sitting in the waiting room of a medical testing lab yesterday getting a blood test to diagnose the cause of my most recent case of “walking pneumonia”.  Many leukemia and stem cell transplant survivors like me are required to take medications that suppress their immune systems.  Lung infections are a constant threat. The testing lab removed all but six chairs from its waiting room and required all patients and staff to wear masks.  Whi ..read more
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Coronavirus and “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
4y ago
I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bug take me out after I survived AML leukemia and a stem cell transplant. For that reason, my wife and I are in self-imposed isolation in our home.  I am sure many other cancer patients and stem cell transplant survivors are likewise sheltering in place. One of the side-effects of a stem cell transplant is graft vs. host disease (GvHD).  It’s a condition caused when the new donated immune system has trouble telling friend from foe and attacks the patient’s body.  To prevent GvHD symptoms, transplant patients are required to take an anti-rejection drug to ta ..read more
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Medical Update
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
5y ago
I recently underwent my regular bi-annual bone marrow biopsy.  I got the results this week.  “No MRD.  Diploid cytogenetics.  100% donor.”  In layman’s terms, that’s good news.  The “No MRD” means no sign of minimal residual disease.  That means they can’t find any leukemia cells in my bone marrow.  The “diploid cytogenetics” means I don’t have genetic mutations that might be an early warning of recurrent leukemia.  The “100% donor” means that all of the cells tested in my bone marrow had the DNA of my brother/donor.  None of those cells had my old DNA. I continue to battle severe dry eye and ..read more
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Leukemia Patients Should Demand Genetic Testing For Better Treatment
LeukemiaLottery
by Houston Wine
5y ago
One of the many things I learned as a result of fighting AML leukemia is that leukemia is not a single disease.  It is actually a catch-all category for many genetic mutations that are similar but do not all respond to the same treatment.  As a researcher in Canada said recently in an article in the journal Cancer Cell: “It’s important to understand that both myeloid leukemia and lymphocytic leukemia are a combination of approximately twenty different genetic diseases,” explained Sauvageau. “What we call ‘leukemia’ is actually the group of symptoms caused by these diseases. We thus had to test ..read more
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