Friday, March 9, 2012

Johns Hopkins: The Final Chapter

I forgot to mention that I spent the entire day a week ago Thursday being poked, prodded and interrogated at Johns Hopkins for the last time (well, the last time that has anything to do with the stem cell transplant, anyway). This was the somewhat overdue two-year follow-up visit. As usual, blood and bone marrow were extracted for evaluation (still waiting for the results). And I was given the final round of childhood immunization boosters, so I am as close as I can get to having an adult immune system again.

The Hopkins oncologist waved off my concerns about the dangers of long-term exposure to Revlimid (increased risk of developing second cancers), saying that the benefits far outweighed the risks, and were in any case overwhelmed by the increased risks introduced by the transplant itself (first time I heard this, so there you go).

He also encouraged me to participate in a clinical trial that was offered to me recently by the Christiana oncologist (I think I probably forgot to mention this as well -- I'm definitely slipping). This is a trial of a vaccine for shingles. Although the post-procedure incidence of shingles is very high (30%+) for bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients, both oncologists think that if I was going to get shingles, I would probably have gotten it by now; but both also seem to think that participation in this trial is a good idea for me. I may have mentioned this before, but myeloma survivors are a valuable commodity in the cancer research community; for a number of reasons, myeloma receives proportionally more attention from the researchers than the raw percentages would suggest. Then again, maybe these guys are trying to prepare me psychologically for a future of clinical trials that will be my only resort, once I exhaust, inevitably, one by one, the standard treatment protocols.

No comments:

Post a Comment