It is hard to believe that it has been over a month since my last post. The good news is that much of that time I have been on vacation, feeling well and enjoying the Gulf Islands with family (the photo on the left was taken on Galiano Island). I am back from those holidays refreshed and looking forward. In the midst of my vacation time I received the good news that my free light chain count continues to drop (from 310 to 200 after cycle one and now to 95 after cycle two). The current treatment regime of Velcade and Dexamethasone is working and giving me reason to hope for months of good health before needing to turn to another treatment. It is the first time since the diagnosis fifteen months ago that my treatments have stabilized and that life has settled into a (new) normal.
I am off to St. Paul's hospital in the morning for the last injection of Velcade in cycle three. Part of the new normal is living in thirty-five day segments between each free light chain count. To my surprise I am not finding the days waiting for the next count to be anxiety producing. I don't live in great fear that the myeloma is going to spike all of a sudden and I am growing in confidence that the Velcade is going to continue working for some time. I know that at some point the numbers will begin to creep up again. Then my doctor will sit down with me to map out the next plan. In the meantime, I am grateful for the gift of healthy days, weeks and months. The one time when my heart races a bit is when I see that the free light chain count has arrived online and that I can click on the link to read the results. Lately the news awaiting me has been good, giving reason for joy and gratitude ... and a calmer heartbeat.
Speaking of future treatments the next new drug to control multiple myeloma was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. Carfilzomib (trade name Kyprolis) works in the same way that Velcade does to inhibit proteasomes from breaking down proteins - the broken proteins that are the free light chains that are counted to determine how active myeloma is in my blood. While not yet available in Canada the FDA approval is a major step towards the drug becoming available here, too. It may well be a future treatment option for me when Velcade is no longer effective. Myeloma research continues to make tremendous strides with more new drugs on the way. One of my favorite sources for this kind of information is the Myeloma Hope blog. I find this blog particularly helpful and inspiring as it is the work of a fellow myeloma patient and marathon runner. I have been away from running for a couple of years but realize that I am ready to begin the journey back to fitness. I must be feeling better. As Don writes on the Myeloma Hope blog: "Right now the cure for myeloma is to stay alive long enough to die of something else." Sounds like a plan.