This past Friday, the oncologist announced that he is satisfied that I am responding positively to the chemotherapy. Among other things, comparison of a current skeletal survey with one conducted earlier showed that at least one lesion, on the skull, has vanished in the interim.
To my surprise, he then initiated a discussion about stem cell transplant, before I had chance to do so myself. In all of our previous conferences, he never uttered an unprompted word on the topic, always managing to deflect any suggestion that we should talk about it by dismissing any such discussion as premature. His stated belief now is that I will likely be considered a good candidate for the procedure, based both on how I have responded to the induction therapy, and on the fact that the original bone marrow biopsy failed to justify a positive diagnosis -- multiple myeloma was not confirmed until the T8 tumor was biopsied -- suggesting that the scope of the disease is limited. In any case, he fully approved our recent efforts to initiate consultations with the relevant specialists at both Penn and Johns Hopkins. But since there is no realistic chance that stem cell transplant could begin any time in the next 30 days, he directed me to go ahead with a fourth chemotherapy cycle. So this morning I swallowed the drugs for Day One of yet another go-round.
As a warning to the reader, I am expecting the stem cell transplant topic to provide plenty of grist for my blogging mill. I would expect future posts to dissect it in more or less excruciating detail, assuming that I really am headed in that direction.