Last week, we got some rotten news about Tracy’s health.
In November, a detailed PET scan showed that chemotherapy had stopped all observable cancerous activity in Tracy’s bones. This was great news, because the complete response meant that Tracy could receive a donation of bone marrow from a match in the National Bone Marrow Registry. We found out a bit later that Tracy’s one match was ineligible to give, and that was depressing, but we took solace in the news that the match would become eligible to donate again in a year’s time. If Tracy could just stay in her current state a complete response for a year, she could get a transplant then…
… but over Christmas break, she started feeling really sore and nauseated, and on top of that her bones started hurting her more. The doctors in cancer care ordered a new bone scan with a radioactive dye to show places in her body where cancer might be active. They found active tumors in her skull, shoulders, vertebrae, ribs, and one leg. It’s all back, just two months after a complete response, and just four months after she started chemotherapy. This means that her cancer lines have evolved resistance to her chemotherapy agents very quickly. It also means that if we found a match today in the National Bone Marrow Registry, Tracy would be ineligible because they don’t perform transplants until a person’s cancer is under control. That window has closed.
We need to open a new window. Tomorrow, Tracy’s going to “receive a port” — a medical euphemism for an operation in which doctors will put a permanent line connecting her blood vessels to a hole just under her skin. This is an acknowledgement that Tracy’s chemotherapy will be ongoing, because a port is usually put in to allow ongoing access for frequent blood tests and the administration of drugs. In two days, Tracy is going to start a new cocktail of chemotherapy agents, including the harsh drug carfilzomib. If this new cocktail works, and if we can find a match before the new cocktail stops working, Tracy can still get a bone marrow transplant … a possible cure.
That’s a lot of ifs, but we’re at the point where any possibility is better than none, and any increase in the size of that possibility is something we can hold onto.
Please help us kick up Tracy’s possibilities a notch. If you are 18-44 and healthy, would you take a few minutes to join the National Bone Marrow Registry? If you aren’t in that set but you know some people who are, would you share this link that lets them know how they can join?
I know I may sound like a broken record, but a reminder: it’s easy to join. It’s painless to join. It’s free to join. And you or someone you know could be a real, honest-to-goodness hero for someone in need.
~ James, Tracy’s husband