Month: December 2005

Cost of drugs

Celgene (
Corp. said it would price its new medicine for a rare blood disease at about $54,000 annually, and argued that the drug would save the health-care system money.

Um… well, I’m glad I’m going to be in a trial. Free drugs. Even though I have good insurance, there is a lifetime limit of a million dollars. If I live 10 more years on drugs that cost $50 a year, that will use half! Zometa is almost $20k a year, although I doubt I’ll be on that every month for the rest of my life, since it’s known to cause ONJ in some patients. I’m going to see if I can cut back to every other month for now.

Wake Forest

This morning I got a call from the doc at Wake Forest University, telling me they’re now enrolling people in the Rev/dex EAP trial. That was good news for me. Winston-Salem is a lot better drive for me than Charlotte. I have an appointment next week. I’m dreading the dex, but am hoping it helps me.

Here is a quote published in Cure magazine this month from Dr. Paul Richardson, MD, clinical director of the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Dana Farber Cancer Institute:
“I don’t want to overstate the case, but in myeloma patients who do respond to Revlimid, which is about one-third of patients, they can enjoy very durable disease control on the agent.”

Dr. Richardson is a wonderful, caring person. I wish I lived closer to Boston so he could be my doctor. :)


I just finished upgrading the software I use for this blog (WordPress) to the latest version. It always makes me nervous to do upgrades. I tend to rush and not backup stuff beforehand. This time I did, and all went well.

The jug

Today’s the day I’m collecting for the 24 hr urine test. I have to leep reminding myself it’s not a contest to see how much I can get. I start to worry if it’s not looking like it’s enough. I can only do what I can do, right?

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, there’s a test that we with MM have to do every once in a while. It’s called a 24 hour urine test. We have to save all our urine in a jug for 24 hours, starting with the second “event” of the day and ending with the first of the next day. Then we lug the jug to the doc’s office and they send it off for testing. What they’re trying to determine, is the amount of what used to be known as Bence-Jones protein.

It’s a complicated process, and it’s always amazing to me that someone even figured this stuff out.

Crop Circle

Did I ever mention that I once saw a crop circle? No? I did! I was in England, in Wiltshire, near Avebury. We were checking out the West Kennet long barrow near Silbury Hill and saw the crop circle. I believe they’re made by people, of course, and not aliens. It was a beautiful sight, but not more interesting than the long barrow or the stones at Avebury. Wiltshire is just beautiful, if you ask me. In fact, the whole country is beautiful. That was one place I didn’t want to come home from. Imagine (Americans) driving down a country road (on the wrong side) and seeing a castle! We just don’t have many things like that here. Check out this site for more information.

If you’re a little insulted that I’m overawed by the accomplishments of my English ancestors, check out this amazing structure. It was created by native Americans more than 3000 years ago. I visited there as a child, and felt it was a magical place.

Trigger to myeloma relapse may be found

The title sounds very encouraging, but I was hoping for more detailed information in the article. If anyone has the complete report, I’d be interested in reading it.

I’m quoting the entire article below, in case the location changes, but here’s the URL:

NEW YORK, Dec. 23 (UPI) — Weill Medical College of Cornell University researchers in New York think they found the mechanism that triggers relapse in patients with multiple myeloma.

While available drugs can push the disease into temporary remission, fatal, uncontrolled cell division always re-emerges over time, and until now, the cellular mechanism driving this relapse has remained unclear, according senior researcher Dr. Selina Chen-Kiang, professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Multiple myeloma originates deep in the bone marrow and is the second most common blood cancer. The disease is always fatal, with an average life expectancy after diagnosis of just three years.

“There are drugs that are geared to getting people into remission, but they ultimately fail because there are still cancer cells that have the potential for self-renewal — they’ll rise again and start dividing,” says Chen-Kiang.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology and published in Cancer Research.

Recent labs

Normally I put all the lab results in a table, but I’m feeling lazy today. My IgA has not gone up in a few months. Could this mean I’m stable? Do I need to hold off on treatment until my IgA goes up? My CBCs are all normal.

WBC	5.9	x10E3/uL		4.0 - 10.5
RBC	4.07	x10E6/uL		3.80 - 5.10
HGB	12.0	g/dL		11.5 - 15.0
HCT	35.1	%		34.00  -44.00
PLT	288	x10E3/uL		140 - 415
ANC	3.1	x10E3/uL		1.8 - 7.8
IgG	259	mg/dL		700 - 1600
IgA	2445	mg/dL		70 - 400
IgM	<6	mg/dL		40 - 230			


My liver function has improved since the last test a few weeks ago, and I’ll be able to start the rev/dex trial. That’s if the other tests are ok. I’ve had plenty of EKGs in the last few months, so I’m sure my heart is fine. My appointment with one of the docs in Charlotte is for 2:30 PM on January 3rd. I’m looking forward to starting, but dreading it at the same time. If you’ve ever done high dose dex, you know exactly how I’m feeling.