Yesterday we saw Dr. Keller, my oncologist in Tulsa. We went over the report from the oncologist at M.D. Anderson. You may remember that I am in “complete remission.” Yeah Chemo! In addition, Dr. Samaniego had suggested that a maintenance treatment is optional and in his view not necessary. Clinical trials have not demonstrated a benefit in terms of longevity and are inconclusive regarding the short term. He also felt that not taking the maintenance treatment of Retuxim might interfere with future chemo should I have a relapse. It stays in your body up to six months. So, we anticipated saying no to the maintenance treatment and having my port taken out.
All of this was fine with Dr. Keller if that is what we wanted. However, as we discussed the future we began to look at things a bit differently. The maintenance treatment with the Retuxim would be for only two years on an every other month basis. Dr. Keller said he has never had anyone experience a relapse of the Lymphoma during this extended treatment. It occurred to me that I am not ready to retire, but if the cancer came back I would need to retire before going through treatment again. The maintenance treatment would insure me at least two more years of doing what I love to do.
Lynda and I talked about it and decided I should go ahead with the maintenance treatment. This is not because we are afraid the Lymphoma will come back – the odds are in my favor. On the other hand the treatments would increase the odds to zero for at least two years and perhaps more. So that is what I will do.
There are no side effects for Retuxim. I get to keep my hair and there should not be the severe fatigue I had before. The treatment will take about four hours every other month. I will be able to keep my subcutaneous port which really helps.
We continue to be grateful for all the love and support. I am open to every opportunity to help others on this journey. As my brother, Fred, put it, I have a new gift of God to give to others. That is already happening.