Billy part II

February 17, 2003|

Billy part II

I’ve been wanting to write this update for three weeks now. Every time I sat down ready to write it, the details changed in the story. For example, I was told that option X was the best treatment option available to me. A few days later I received a call telling me option X was no longer available. Then option Y came into the picture. But a day later option Y was discovered to be no better than option Z. So let’s go with Z. But…

It was a slightly maddening time. Everyday lent itself to a new opinion, a new fact and more data. Finally, the decision needed to be made. Time was running short. So with the counsel of Dr. Perales, we decided to do an infusion of Billy’s T-cells.

What’s a T-cell infusion? My immune system (Art/Billy’s) doesn’t recognize the Hodgkin’s cancer cells as foreign evil invaders. Consequently, those cancer cells are just hanging around in my lymph system, disrupting my body’s natural flow and causing me massive pain. Billy’s immune system (Billy’s), we think, will recognize the Hodgkin’s cancer cells as foreign evil invaders. Therefore, by giving me more of Billy’s T-cells, which are the baby cells that mature into your immune system, we think that those cells will attack the cancer cells. It’s like getting reinforcements in the middle of a war.

This is a relatively easy procedure, just a simple blood transfusion done on an outpatient basis. Billy has little to do also, just one trip to the hospital where he’ll donate a pint or so of blood. There are many side effects that could occur, which is why we balked at doing this earlier in January. If Billy’s cells enter my system, and don’t recognize my system as being the good guys, they’ll attack my cells too. The liver and kidneys are the first to be attacked, causing eventual shutdown. Graft vs. Host Disease is next, as T-cells start attacking my skin and colon. If those above were to happen, I would be put on high dose steroids, which have their own side effects, further exacerbating my problems.

But, the good news is that this infusion treatment has been proven to work as a curative option, unlike many of the other options. That’s what I was looking for- a proven curative option.

I was supposed to receive the infusion last week, but Dr. Perales was concerned about my pain, which intensified as the week progressed. He got me into see a pain specialist, who helped significantly. Unfortunately I still have that increase in pain this week. It will only be eradicated when the T-cells start working, so before then I am back on painkillers. (I apologize ahead of time if my work suffers, the painkillers really do a number on my brain.)

So here we go again… just please pray for strength to deal with the pain and that the infusion would work. Thank you.

P.S. Make sure to check out the details on the Art Canning Foundation, located above. I hope to see you all there.