Friday, September 26, 2014

Greg - FIVE; Alien - ZERO

The nice Doctor agreed that I could take her picture today after I had requested that she make the shapes as shown with her hands.

They signify that today is officially the end of the countdown; Five Years, Zero Cancer.

Call me a slab of bacon, I am considered cured.

The Doctor is now eligible for sainthood because of her work and tolerance of me for 6 years.

Sorry, we didn't cry. We congratulated each other, did some retrospection and then went on our way with my promise to come to their office and visit on a regular basis.

Even now, I remember all of the things good folks did for me during what I still call one of the best times of my life. To pay them back, I'm still an active volunteer with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and bmtinfonet as a mentor to folks going through a diagnosis/treatment similar to mine.

Through ourselves, we grow Heaven on earth.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Call Me Irresponsible

Friday was my last scheduled annual follow up appointment at MCV as part of the protocol that was established upon my release in August 2009.

For the first three years, the protocol involved semi-annual scans, bone marrow biopsies, blood work, and pulmonary function testing. After the third year, the testing was to be scheduled once a year.

Literally and figuratively, the testing is a pain in the butt.

Last year, I presented to the doctor who met with me that I didn't think the testing was still necessary. My logic was 1) I really didn't want any additional radiation to enter my body via the CT scan process, 2) I hadn't been experiencing any of the symptoms that I recall all too well that took place prior to the initial diagnosis in October 2008, 3) My blood work was normal for the last 3 years, 4) As my maximum out of pocket liability had doubled since initial diagnosis, I was not interested in adding additional financial obligations to my balance sheet.

The doctor agreed but did say that they may do one final scan this year as a final reassurance. At the time, I thought to myself, "That gives me a year to talk them out of it next year."

I met with the director of the unit this year. With that said, I resigned myself to the fact that the waiving of the final testing may be more difficult to obtain. However, after consulting initially with a Fellow who agreed with my logic but said the director would have to sign off on it, the director agreed to waive the final testing.

It wasn't because he was playing fast and loose with my health, but rather, he explained that patients with my initial diagnosis are most likely to experience recurrence within the first 2.5-3 years post treatment. That, combined with my current health and blood counts allowed him to waive the testing with confidence that it was no longer needed in my case.

September 26 is the last meeting of torment with my regular oncologist. After that, the process of electing her to sainthood will most likely begin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Please Return Chair Backs To Upright Position

Stem cell

5 years ago today, my 4.7 million stem cells came back to me.

August 15 - final visit to MCV for annual peek under the hood.

September 26 - final visit to patient and tolerant oncologist.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Final Countdown

The picture below is from the Church Hill Irish Festival in Richmond VA that I attended on Saturday. The last time I attended this event was in 2009 (see if you can spot something humorous in the photo that I didn't spot when I took the photo, but saw it afterwards).

After attending the Festival, on my way back to my car I saw this view. The building with the white horizontal lines is where I "vacationed" for almost 3 weeks in the summer of 2009.

On March 20, 2009, I met with the oncologist to discuss the potential of continuing treatment via the stem cell transplant method. 

On March 21, 2014, I met with the oncologist for one of my regularly scheduled appointments that are scheduled every 6 months. All clear. The blood work report was one of the best since the craziness all started.

Before leaving the oncologist's office, my next, and most importantly, FINAL appointment was scheduled for Friday, September 26. 

How should one celebrate?