Archive for December, 2013

Chemo – round 3

Day 5 of 5.

Chemo – round 3

Day 4 of 5.

Chemo – round 3

Day 3 of 5.

Chemo – round 3

Day 2 of 5.

Chemo – round 3 (Hello Fludarabine)

Day 1 of 5.

Received results of 2nd bone marrow biopsy, which still showed leukemic cells.

Began “5+2″ chemo regimen, with the same drugs as the 1st chemo round, and the addition of a third, much stronger chemo drug: Fludarabine. I’m told this is a FLAG regimen. I’m finding out a year later that there is a term associated with how I responded to the initial inpaptient (induction) treatment: Refractory.

Taken from this site:

We will consider refractory disease to be disease that did not respond to up to two cycles of first-line induction therapy.

That sounds like me, or at least my overly dramatic body. I found a great simple explanation of refractory AML, and an overall glance at the treatment process at

I also became familiar with the drug Neupogen. One of my nurses explained that Fludarabine is such a strong drug that Neupogen must be given to increase the white cell count at an accelerated rate. Without the Neupogen, “it would take 2 to 3 months for you to recover, and we can’t send you home like that”. I’ll take the Neupogen shot! I had one shot each day for 14 days (Dec 12 – 26 before my white cell count began recovering.

Bone Marrow Biopsy #3

Biopsy #3

Results: 14% blast of leukemic cells.

Done as inpatient at Immanuel Medical Center after completing second round of chemotherapy.


In short, round 2 of chemo did nothing. I was really hoping to go home after recovering from the second round of chemo. Instead, I prepared to have my third round, this time with the much harsher chemo drug Fludarabine.

By this time, I had lost the majority of my hair. My husband and I had planned to shave it down once it got thin enough, and it was time. My hair just felt like some wisps of straw. What we thought would be a fun and relieving experience was extremely depressing. This was a particularly bad day to begin with, and not one that we should have chosen to shave all but a thin frame around my face.



Not the beer, the cat – yes, one of our cats is named Bud. His younger, smaller, lighter-colored sister is named Bud Lite. They are 2 cats that were part of a feral colony I took care of for years. I took in Bud Lite when she was near death. She spent 3 weeks at the animal hospital I worked at for awhile, and it took her months to recover. Bud was the last survivor, and I took him in after I was sure there were no others left. He is a beautiful long haired loveable guy, whom I was told was female by the Humane Society when he was neutered. Understandable mistake on the paperwork, as they did trap-neuter-release cats in batches, brought in by rescue groups.

My husband called me when he woke up, and said that before going to bed the night before he noticed Bud was not acting right…laying in odd places, hanging around the water bowl, acting sick. In the morning, the cat was hovering over the water bowl with his front feet in the water, and he had vomited some rope from our cat tree. Thinking that maybe he had eaten some rope and was blocked, he was taken to our vet. After an exam and an x-ray, they confirmed that Bud was male, and that he had severe urinary blockage. My husband was referred to an after hours emergency clinic by our vet, where they did immediate surgery.

I spent the day in tears, fearing that I would never see Bud again. It was a horrible torturous day, and I resented the fact that I was in the hospital through all this. Bud pulled through fine, and spent the next couple weeks recovering in the bedroom, which is normally a no kitty zone. The emergency vet said he was so blocked that urine was beginning to leak from his bladder into his gut. Thankfully everything worked out ok, and now Bud and my husband are even better buddies.