Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's Sinking In

It's been a couple of weeks since we got the news that Clyde's tests had indicated that she was beating the cancer. After so many years with the disease it was almost surreal to have a clear CAT scan. Lymphoma, if I understand it correctly, is caused when the bone marrow creates white blood cells that are mutated. Those mutant cells collect in the lymph system and other organs. These collection sites become swollen to the point that they are noticed by the patient. A CAT scan clearly "sees" these sites. I don't think Clyde has had a clear scan in almost five years. That is, until a couple of weeks ago.

So the news is all very positive and we should all be ecstatic. The impression I get is that Clyde's mental state is just that. My reaction however, has been considerably more reserved. As the cell donor, obviously, I am very close to the situation. I too should be ecstatic but I haven't been, and I find that enormously troubling. After all, I can cure cancer, right?

Therein lies the rub. To think that we have "cured" anything seems arrogant to me. At the moment, Clyde is showing no signs of the lymphoma that she's carried around all these years. Still, a part of me needs a finish line, someone telling me that the game is over and we have won. The reality is that I know that declaration of victory doesn't exist in these situations. Sure, we have the lead at the moment, a big one at that, but we're up against a formidable opponent with an impressive win record. Part of me will need to stand guard for a long time.

T-cell transplant recipients that are cancer free after five years have a fifty-percent chance of being cancer free for the rest of their days. The strength of Clyde's character and the manner in which she has responded to treatment since being diagnosed leads me to believe that her battle with cancer is probably behind her. I want to believe that we have, in fact, won.

My happiness, as it relates to Clyde's disease, will come from acceptance. The facts that I must come to accept are that my blood has helped Clyde become cancer free today. The key word here is "today." We don't know where this is going to go tomorrow, next week or next year. What we have is a clean bill of health today. That needs to be enough.

Going into this procedure there were a mountain of risks and what-ifs. Clyde has overcome or avoided nearly all of them. Her medical team refers to her progress as "remarkable." Everything about her is remarkable if you ask me. Tonight she feels and looks great. She's excited about the possibilities that a cancer-free life holds for her. It's likely that her life expectancy has been greatly increased. Will the lymphoma return? Maybe, but today it's looking at our backs and we're pulling away. Today, we're in the lead. That needs to be enough.

Be well.

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's time to write the post I've been dreaming about for months and I don't know what to say. As many of you know, Clyde had a complete work-up today at the clinic. The medical team was looking very closely in an attempt to discover how the transplant was doing in the fight against Clyde's lymphoma. In addition to the usual blood work, the plan was to do a total body CAT scan and compare the results to CAT scans taken before the transplant. In the scan the doctors can see the extent to which the lymphoma is causing swelling in lymph nodes, the spleen, the liver and the kidneys. The greater the swelling, the greater the cancer involvement.

When Dr. Longo came into the exam room to discuss test results, he didn't want to talk about the blood test results. He wanted to share with Clyde that the CAT scan results were completely, absolutely, normal. All the lymph nodes, the spleen, the liver that had been swollen with cancer cells were now normal in size. There are no signs of lymphoma. As far as Clyde's doctors are concerned, the transplant is, at the moment, kicking some cancer ass.

If you're reading this and sensing an absence of enthusiasm it's because none of us really know what to feel about this news. Nobody seems to have the language to express the joy we're all feeling about the fact that it appears that Clyde has her health back. What do you say when someone thanks you for helping her feel better than she's felt in two and a half years? What would your reaction be if you were a parent learning that your child now has a chance at a normal life without reliance on chemo for a marginal existence. Put yourself in the shoes of anyone close to Clyde and the enormity of this news becomes almost overwhelming.

In the days to come I hope that I'll get my head around the miraculous success we're experiencing. I apologize for the scattered nature of this post. In the meantime know that Clyde appears to be cancer free and that your positive thoughts and prayers played a major role.

Send Clyde a note on her Facebook page at (copy the address and paste into your browser)

I know she'll appreciate hearing from you.

Be well.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Think Positive Thoughts...Please

Tomorrow Clyde will have a complete health evaluation that will tell us how the transplant is working against the lymphoma. Though anxious, Clyde is excited to hear that her new immune system is winning the battle she's been fighting since 1988. The testing will take all day but I will update as soon as I hear from her.

Over night, please put all of your positive energy out there to help Clyde get the news that there are no remaining signs of her cancer.

Tomorrow is a big day for "Team Clyde." All of the well-wishes you have offered over the last few months have made you a part of that team. We're about to learn that we are winning.

Be well.