Friday, December 19, 2014

Multiple Myeloma Can Cause Kidney Damage

What is Multiple Myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer. It affects plasma cells that produce antibodies to fight infections and diseases.

Healthy plasma cells are found inside bones in the bone marrow. Abnormal plasma cells can grow out of control and form tumors in the bones.

A single plasma cell tumor is known as an isolated plasmacytoma. A person who has more than one plasmacytoma has multiple myeloma.

The antibodies made by plasma cells are special proteins that circulate throughout the body in the blood stream. Multiple myeloma causes affected plasma cells to create large numbers of abnormal proteins that cannot be used by the body.

Multiple myeloma can also damage bone tissue and cause it to break down or dissolve. Hypercalcemia is the condition that results when dissolved bone results in abnormally high amounts of calcium in the blood.

How Does Multiple Myeloma Affect the Kidneys?

Kidney failure is a common complication of multiple myeloma that affects approximately 20 percent of patients.

The kidneys are organs in the abdomen that act as filters to clean waste products out of the blood stream. This waste is passed out of the body as urine.

Multiple myeloma can damage the kidneys’ ability to filter waste.

Kidney failure results when the kidneys are no longer able to function and they shut down. Kidney failure must be treated with dialysis in which machines take over the work of the kidneys to remove waste from the body.

If multiple myeloma results in excess calcium in the blood, the kidneys can be damaged due to overwork as they try to remove the extra calcium. This can cause permanent kidney damage.

Multiple myeloma can also damage the tubules inside the kidneys that allow blood to flow through the kidney to be filtered. Abnormal proteins created by cancerous plasma cells travel through the blood to the kidneys.

Normal proteins are small enough to pass through the tubules without causing damage. But chains of abnormal proteins can sometimes link up with other proteins in the kidney that are a normal part of urine.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stem cell transplant can be outpatient treatment for some

Before I cut and paste this story, I must give my own views on this.  I'm not convinced that this is safe for the patient.

Although Dom's transplant was over 5 years ago, it was SO MUCH DIFFERENT.... for the better, I believe.

Firstly, after living in this home for 25 years, there was no way that I'd bring my husband home to 25 years of "stuff".

Instead, we moved into an apartment a few weeks prior to his procedure.  I hired a guy to come in and "sanitize" the apartment. (A fog and a spray).

After the transplant, he was in the hospital for several (?) weeks.  Once he returned to our new home, he was not permitted to eat ANY fresh vegetables or fruit.  Canned, only.... as long as the cans were washed with warm soapy water and opened up by hand.

It was a couple of months before she allowed him to go out for pizza and a movie..... the movies were matinees, and the meals would be during "off hours", so as to pretty much have the restaurant to ourselves.  (MASK)

His mother was in poor health in her mid-nineties.  NOPE.  Finally, our doctor allowed him to put on his mask, park in her driveway to allow her to visit her only child.

If we had to do it all over again, we'd choose the same method.  He's worth it.  *winking and smiling*
Bringing a major medical treatment home. Patients once spent weeks in the hospital. Now they can get a stem cell transplant and go home. It means tackling a lot of hurdles, but this new idea is offering tremendous relief to patients.

She passes the time with a little knitting … and a visit with her doctor. Then there’s a quick flush of the central line in her chest, placed this past summer before Rebecca Zoltoski began a four-month course of chemotherapy to fight myeloma – cancer of her bone marrow.

Rebecca Zoltoski, stem cell transplant patient: “You do what you have to do.”

But this is not a doctor’s appointment. This is day three of Rebecca’s stem cell transplant. Her doctors are ready to infuse a batch of new cells – her own – with the hope they will grow into healthy bone marrow.

Dr Michael Bishop, University of Chicago Medicine, medical oncologist: “Think of the stem cells as the seeds of the bone marrow. It takes time to start growing and maturing and appearing in the peripheral blood, and that’s about a 10-day process.”

As the cells grow, patients wait. It’s an intense process that typically requires a 21-day stay in the hospital. But Rebecca is an outpatient. And after her daily check in – she’s ready to head out.

Dr Michael Bishop: “We would take her and monitor her blood counts, monitor her kidney and liver functions and make sure she’s doing ok. If everything looks cool, we send her on her merry way with very strict instructions that in that interim, before we would see her the next day, if she developed signs of infection, fever, cough, diarrhea, that she immediately gives us a phone call.”

It’s a new program at University of Chicago Medicine – the outpatient stem cell unit has been up and running for about three weeks.

Rebecca Zoltoski: “This afternoon I hope to get out and get a good walk in so I can try to get some of my energy back because I find that helps me a lot. I wouldn’t really be able to be outside if I were here as an inpatient.”

Dr Michael Bishop: “Knowing you are going home every day, that’s the psychological advantage. They have the comfort of their own home, own bed, foods they are used to and like.”

Rebecca Zoltoski: “I did have some concerns about things that could happen, negative things that could happen.”

And there are risks. Patients undergoing a stem cell transplant have weak immune systems and extremely low blood counts – their ability to fight infection is severely compromised.

Dr Michael Bishop: “Most of the time, 75% of the time the patient is going to be fine. One in four will have to be admitted to the hospital primarily for signs and symptoms of an infection.”

That’s why doctors place constraints on outpatients.

Dr Bishop: “Limited to no crowds, wear a mask, strict hand washing.”

Still, the outpatient process appealed to Rebecca.

Rebecca Zoltoski: “I have an 11-year-old at home, and it’s nice to be able to see her. And it’s nice for her to be able to see me, and know I’m doing ok. That’s been the positive of it.”

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dom's December Numbers- 65 Months COMPLETE REMISSION!

This will be a truly wonderful Christmas for us.  No M-Spike, Light Chains are normal and coming down.  All is well with our world.  We sincerely thank you for all of the prayers and well wishes.

WBC:   6.2

HTC:   40.1


ANC:  56


Kappa:   17.6

Lambda:   18.7

Ratio:   0.94


Thursday, December 11, 2014


LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One of the most common drugs used to fight multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, can cause platelet cell levels to decrease. Now, researchers have a way to help those patients by finding a new use for a drug that already exists.

Lizzy Smith learned she had multiple myeloma during a routine blood test in 2012.

"So when a doctor tells you, 'You have cancer,' I couldn't think of anything more dreaded than that," Smith said.

Smith got chemo, stem cell transplants and Bortezomib. It put her disease in remission but depleted her platelet count and her blood's clotting ability.

"I felt like I was fading away, that I was maybe just kind of phasing into death, and I was so fatigued that I didn't really care," Smith said.

Dr. Dean Li, a cardiologist at the University of Utah, School of Medicine, found that in mice, Fasudil kept platelet counts normal. Fasudil is used in other countries for constricted arteries.

"We're not coming up with a new drug to treat the side effect of this cancer drug. We're trying to repurpose known drugs to treat this side effect," Li said.

Smith said Li's findings gave her hope.

"Absolutely. And hope is a very powerful thing. It gives us strength to keep fighting," she said.

Now, Li is searching for an FDA approved compound like Fasudil hoping to get similar results.

Fasudil is in U.S. clinical trials for treating high blood pressure and other health issues.

Since it's already in use, experts think it could get approval for multiple myeloma within a shorter time frame.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

SO much to be thankful for, and SO much fun!

We were joined by cousin Joe, (Ping was in China for a month), Wendy, Bubby, and later Dennis.

We did a lot of everything-  Shooting guns, shooting pool, feeding raccoons, drinking beer, Beaujolais Nouveau, and bubbly.

I had a beautiful 23 # turkey....cooked “Martha Stewart Style” using a lot of butter, a bottle of wine and cheesecloth.

Also my signature cornbread/pecan/sausage/cranberry stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, lima beans, my niece’s corn souffle, pecan/sweet potato/brown sugar casserole, and a mess of my balsamic pearl onions.

Dessert consisted of Pinnacle Pecan Pie martinis.  Ahhhhh!

Joe, Wendy and Bubby spent the night.  Dennis had to get home to his critters.... horses, donkeys, geese, chickens, etc.

The “party” lasted well into the weekend.