4-18-10 

  First, Lisa and I wanted to thank everyone for your thoughts and well wishes.  We appreciate all your support – more than you know.

  I’m starting this blog for family and friends to keep up with my progress.  I’ll divide each day’s account into 3 sections:

 (1)   Status – on a scale of 10  how I’m subjectively feeling

(2)   Events – what has transpired

(3)   Comments – my thoughts and explanations

 This is my first blog attempt, so perhaps it will be a bit rudimentary and without a lot of bells and whistles, but hopefully it will keep everyone up to date.

 Status: 9.5/10 (actually feel quite fine).  I deducted ½ point for my several month history of shortness of breath on exertion, which is secondary to a mild anemia.

 Events: So here we are at Johns Hopkins in the Kimmel Cancer Center.  The admissions process was well-organized and efficient, clearly they have this nailed down. Met with our nurse and an oncology fellow (an NIH physician who’s completing his post-doctoral fellowship in oncology and is assigned for a one month rotation at Hopkins).  Had a history, physical, EKG and apparently in pretty good health.  Just getting settled in after baseline x-rays and blood work.  The tests and procedures will begin tomorrow.

 Comments: Many of you know that I had a bout of pneumonia in January, which now was a sign that my white blood cells were not working effectively.  You breathe in dust and germs with every breath you take (look at what’s in a stream of sunshine coming though you window) yet you don’t get a lung infection.  Why?  Because your immune system was designed to deal with all that stuff.  But let that protection breakdown and bacteria can get a foothold.

   Following that hospitalization, my lab values showed that my red blood count, white blood count, and platelets (the little cells in your blood that helps it clot) were low. Investigation, including a bone marrow exam, showed some abnormal white cells were crowding out the normal production of red cells, white cells, and platelets.  Those abnormal cells result from a mutation, probably starting in a single cell in the bone marrow.

  When any cell divides the DNA is split and copied, and in that copying process (more than a billion rungs in the DNA ladder) sometimes an error gets made.  Imagine copying a billion pages on a Xerox machine and not skipping one or copying one twice.  And imagine every cell in your body having to do this perfectly throughout your entire lifetime.  It’s a testament to evolution that any of us are still here.

  In that copying process, a single rung of that ladder may get mistyped (exactly what happens in sickle cell anemia – a mistake causes just one tiny change in the hemoglobin molecule in the people with that condition) or a portion of an entire chromosome may get deleted (imagine taking a lunch break during that xeroxing process and forgetting an entire chapter) or pieces of the chromosome may get transposed (what if you dropped the stack of paper and when you picked it back up you switched chapter 12 with chapter 11).  Those are the big mutations that happen in leukemia.

   There are some known causes for creating those mutations, for example long-term exposure to chemicals like benzene.  But for most cases, no one knows what their causes are – perhaps a cosmic ray, or maybe like typos in a letter, they just happen now and then.  Those abnormal white cells in the bone marrow don’t know how to mature into normal, active, disease-fighting cells.  They’re kinda useless, and what’s bothersome is they just keeping multiplying and crowding out the normal cells.

  So what do you do about it?  If you could find their weakness you could perhaps kill them off and let your normal cells get their numbers back.  Well, their weakness is that they divide and multiply quickly, and there are drugs that preferentially kill off rapidly dividing cells.

  So that’s the plan – about 10 days of chemotherapy aimed at those rapidly dividing abnormal cells, hoping to kill them all off – what’s termed a complete remission.  The side effect of the medication is that it lowers the number of normal cells as well, so they will keep me in the hospital for several weeks after the treatment to guard against an infection and for my normal cells to grow back up.  [Note: the chemotherapy also plays havoc with the two other major rapidly dividing cells in your body – hair follicles and the cells of the GI tract, hence the associated nausea, and what they euphemistically term “thinning of the hair.”]

    While it probably won’t be a day at the beach, the alternative of doing nothing didn’t seem like a real successful strategy.  I’m at probably the best place anyone could be to get this sort of treatment and with an incredibly attentive and considerate staff.  I’m pretty well informed about what’s involved in all of this, and have a wonderful, supportive, and loving family.  So, the marathon starts tomorrow.  Good thoughts.  Best to you all.

 Love,

-Bruce

  

Advertisements

16 Responses to “”

  1. Julie Hill Says:

    Hi Bruce and Lisa, Sending good thoughts and prayers your way as you begin this journey. Julie

  2. Judy Freedman Says:

    Bruce,
    You have a VERY unique, amazing, and gifted way of explaining very difficult situations, problems, and conditions in a such a clear and understandable way….the same way you used to help me with algebra problems! I had no idea what the answer was or how to get the answer until you helped me understand. After all of these years, you continue to be the smartest person I know!!

    Do you remember when we did a segment on ABC 7 news in Chicago in the late 1980’s regarding how one craves ice when anemic? Are you craving ice at all with symptoms of mild anemia?

    Thinking of you more than you know. I am certain you will find a way to made lemonade out of lemons.
    Love,
    Judy

  3. Barbara McKee Says:

    Bruce,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you but I know that you will beat this. You have an incredible family and I know that you and Lisa have incredible friends. Your blog will be fascinating as well as informative and probably will help so many people fighting this same battle!

    Get well!!

  4. Dana Kahn Cooper Says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Geoff Cook forwarded your blog to me. First off, please accept by best thoughts and know that we are all thinking of you and looking forward to you getting back to what you do best. Secondly, I hope you keep your posts (of course, thinking like the publicist I am) and then gather them for a men’s health article. You make it all seem so understandable, straight-forward and calming, as if you had written a simple recipe on how to go food shopping.
    Stay strong and get well – and enjoy lots of trash reading It always makes the passing time so much more fun!
    Best,
    dana

  5. Elsa Felten Says:

    Hi Buce,

    I’m Wendy’s long time friend from Chicago. My husband Doug and I send our very best wishes. We pray that your chemo hits the right spot and that it is not too difficult for you.

    With love,

    Doug and Elsa Felten

  6. feliceshops Says:

    Bruce: Please know my thoughts are with you, Lisa and your children. I wish you all the best and hope you have a speedy and complete recovery. You always were and still remain one of my favorite Dans.
    Love,
    Felice

  7. Mary Jane Thompson Says:

    Wendy sent your blog to me. So sorry to hear of your illness. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  8. Hildy Says:

    Bruce, my dear cousin, I had no idea till reading your blog, which was sent to me by Wendy. My thoughts are with you, I am shocked and dismayed, but I know you are strong and will make it through with lots of love and well wishers. From Rich, Sam and Brady, we wish you a speedy recovery, not too rough a time with chemo, and all the very best. We missed you very much last August, when we spent time with Lisa, Rachel and Ethan here in Phoenix. Hopefully, we’ll see all of you again next summer!!!!!!!!!! Much love, Hildy

  9. Judy Moss Says:

    Dear Bruce
    Thank you so much for such an informative blog. You put it into laymen’s terms where someone like me can now understand what Leukemia is. Larry and I are so sorry for what you, along with Lisa and your family, are going through. We hope and pray that the treatment you are going to get will cure this horrible disease and that you will have minimum side effects from the treatment.
    Please continue to keep all of us informed. We are all very much interested in what you have to say and how you are feeling.
    Best of luck to you.
    Love, Judy

  10. mike goldstein Says:

    look forward to the blog, especially since i seem to have been deleted from the annual Bruce Dan Family XMAS update. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and with the hospital staff who I’m sure don’t have any idea of the likely Patient From Hell they’ve landed. And don’t worry about the hair thinning….I’ve saved thousands of grooming dollars and hours as the poster child for this condition.

  11. Reggie & Fred Says:

    Bruce, we just got off the phone with Lisa and wanted you to know right away how much we love you and will do anything we can to help you, Lisa and the kids. Your job is just to get better! Our best thoughts will be with you constantly and that is guaranteed to boost your immune system immediately! Love and Kisses XXXXXXOOOOOO Reg & Fred

  12. mike goldstein Says:

    yes, a lot of people are having good days on the 4:20 holiday of recent origin. Do they have medical use criminal immunity in your state like California?……. If the gastro side effects materialize, you might abridge the blog for the next few days for the squeamish among us………sharon and I thinking of you…

  13. Reggie & Fred Says:

    Hi, Bruce…Ok I’m addicted to your blog. I confess I check numerous times a day. You are so brave, so intelligent and such a great medical professor, not to mention a philosopher extraordinaire..and I might be the worst “speller”, inherited form my Uncle Warren. Love you and hope you have a good night Reg

  14. Alpa and Ken Says:

    Bruce (and Lisa!), what a great idea to start this blog. There are so many of us who are going to want to hear about your progress, and this will enable us to avoid bugging Lisa all the time. So, thank you. This is a thoughtful gift for all of us. We are thinking good thoughts for you!

  15. Jonathan Says:

    My Dearest Uncle,

    I’ve been following your blog for the past few days and am inspired by you and all that you are. Through all of this you maintain a resilience that is uplifting. I just had a minor surgical procedure on Thursday and have been laid up since. While it is nothing compared to what you are going through, I feel I can some how empathize just a tad.

    All my love and prayers are with you and both Katie and I have been sending you positive and healing thoughts. We look forward to knowing your Dan gene’s have kicked this through and through.

    My best to, Lisa and the kids.

    Love,
    Jonathan

  16. Jamie Says:

    Hey Bruce,
    I found your blog because we found out a week ago today that my little brother (19) has AML. We’ve been at Stanford Hospital in Ca. for the past week. He’s gone through 4 days of Chemo with his last round this morning.

    I appreciate you blogging about your experience, kinda gives me an idea of what to expect. Your in my prayers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: