Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Update on Bev--Technical

I talked to Bev this morning. She is in the hospital. When she talked to the doctor last night, she learned that while she doesn't have any leukemia cells right now (which is good), she does have an increased presence of mutated cells. I did some reasearch in order to better understand what is going on with Bev's body. Here is what I found. Some of Bev's 9th an 22nd chromosomes have swapped pieces. The result of this translocation is that some of her 22nd chromosomes are shorter than a normal 22nd chromosome. This mutation is called the Philadelphia chromosome. These Ph chromosomes operate independently. They speed up cell division, and inhibit DNA repair. This can cause genetic instability, which produces blasts--malignant, immature white blood cells. The blasts quickly crowd out healthy white blood cells, causing death. So Bev's diagnosis is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) Philadelphia positive (Ph+). Being Ph+ makes her leukemia much harder to treat and the outcome much less favorable. It's just one added factor to fight. One out of every 5 adults with ALL is Ph+. Along with the regular chemo, she has taken medication to kill the Ph+ cells. Unfortunately, the meds haven't taken care of those cells. In fact, they have increased since September. So last night she started on another medication to help fight the Ph+ cells. She had taken this med last year, and it made her sick. It made her sick again last night. She spiked a fever, had awful chills, and kidney pain. So her husband took her to the hospital at 1:00 this morning. She is on an antibiotic, and started on more chemo today to keep the blasts at bay. She will still start the transplant process on November 26th. 6 days of intense chemo, followed by 3 days of rest, and the actual transplant on December 5. Since the medication hasn't killed the Ph+ cells, there is little possibility it ever will. The doctor's hope at this point is that the graft vs host disease will attack the remaining Ph+ cells. Bev is hoping to be able to go home for a few days before the transplant starts. She has some loose ends to tie up, and she wants a few more focused days with her family. The prognosis for this transplant is not as good as we would like. She is feeling really down about the prospect of not having those last few days. Please pray accordingly.

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