Archive for January, 1999

No news is good news (no sign of cancer, blood counts still improving)

In the last few days I’ve had conversations with several old friends who have
been worrying because they hadn’t heard from me lately.  I hadn’t written
because nothing much had changed – but they were very relieved to hear that,
and they urged me to share this with the rest of you.

So, here is my non-news.  The short version is that there is still no sign of
cancer, and my blood counts are continuing to improve, and I’m feeling fine.

There continues to be no sign of cancer.  I had some blood tests on Dec. 17
for “tumor markers,” and the results were all normal (i.e. they didn’t
indicate that cancer was present).  These tumor marker tests are unreliable –
they can have both false positives and false negatives, but it still is nice
that the results seem favorable.

My blood counts are continuing to improve, slowly.  The interval between
platelet transfusions keeps getting longer (I’ve had transfusions on 7/31,
8/21, 9/17, 10/2, 10/29, and 12/17 – the earlier ones were 2-4 weeks apart,
and the last two were seven weeks apart).  These transfusions were given
when my platelet counts were at somewhere between 11 and 22.  Dr. Hesdorffer,
my stem cell transplant doctor, recommended that we put off further
transfusions until the platelet count goes below 10, in hopes that the counts
will stabilize in the teens and then start going up.  However, we still
decided that I should have a transfusion on 12/17, when my count was at 17,
because I didn’t want to worry about blood tests and transfusions while on

After vacation, I had another blood test on 1/5/99, and my white blood count
was 3.0, hematocrit 34.6, hemoglobin 11.9, and platelets 40.  The red and
white counts have been very steadily improving and holding their own (I
continue to give myself injections of Procrit three times a week to stimulate
the red counts).  I was thrilled that the platelets were at 40 nearly three
weeks after the last platelet transfusion.

Psychologically, I somehow manage to continue to believe that I am healthy
and to feel as though we have conquered this dragon.  That confidence was
shaken for a couple of days last week when I learned that a friend on the
Compuserve cancer forum who was diagnosed at the same time as I was, reported
that she is suffering from bone metastasis that seems to be spreading
aggressively.  Though I reminded her that many people live many good years
after having bone metastasis, that still scared me.  But my defense
mechanisms have bounced back into place, and I’m feeling calm about my health

The trip out west had its good times and difficult times.  Ken, Margie, and I
all had bad colds, congested chests, and I had a sinus infection.  With all
that, the altitude and very cold weather in Santa Fe was difficult, and we
were pretty tired.  We still enjoyed a lot about Santa Fe, and we loved the
overnight train trip – the highlight of this was Sandy, our sleeping car
attendant, an extraordinary woman who has been working on overnight trains
for twenty years.  She was warm and funny and outspoken and earthy and she
paid loads of attention to the kids in her car.  It was a joy to watch her
operate.  She said she worked on these trains for five years before she ever
saw another woman working with her – in the old days she slept in a staff
sleeping car, with triple-decker bunks, where she was the only woman employee
in the car.

We had lovely visits with several friends in and around Los Angeles, but
didn’t get much sense of the city.  The drive up the California coast was
breathtaking but exhausting (we went by car, not by train, and stayed
overnight in a lovely bed and breakfast place in St. Luis Obispo).  We
enjoyed San Francisco – we were staying at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel right
near Union Square, which was a terrific location.  Both in Los Angeles and in
San Francisco I met wonderful friends whom I had gotten to know on the
Compuserve Cancer Forum – and we met the family of one of Margie’s friends
from Yale.

The highlight of the San Francisco visit was our walk across the Golden Gate
Bridge.  Ken keeps track of the time when the moon is going to rise, and he
had a vivid memory of having driven over the Golden Gate Bridge 30 years ago
when a full moon was rising to the east over San Francisco Bay while the sun
was setting to the west over the Pacific.  We also had a full moon while we
were in San Francisco, and Ken, Margie, and I got to the bridge just 10
minutes after the moon started rising.  The sunset and moonrise were both
magnificent.  We walked across the bridge and back – it seemed to be about 4
miles.  We were feeling well and the weather was lovely.  The only problem
was that Sarah had gone back to our hotel because she was tired, and we were
distracted by worry about how Sarah was doing and when and how we’d get back
to her.  When we finally got back (by bus and then taxi), Sarah was fine.

We’ve settled back into the routines of school, work, and synagogue

Margie has been elected co-chair of Yale’s Hunger and Homelessness Action
Project; Sarah is practicing for her middle school play; I’m continuing to
recruit members and develop the computer systems for our synagogue; and Ken
is planning program on stories and storytelling for our synagogue retreat.
Margie is also industriously trying to find funding and to make arrangements
to do some kind of community service work in India this summer.





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