12 Jul

When I was up at bluegrass camp in Grass Valley, my friend Patti (who is also one of my personal honorees, as well as the bass player in my band) mentioned that A., my guitar teacher’s wife (I’m not putting her name because I’m not sure how much she wants me putting on my site), was waiting on some test results. She had lymphoma a few years ago, but she was treated with some serious chemo and it went into remission. A month or so ago, her lungs started filling up with liquid. She had to go to the doctor to get it drained so that she could breathe. Her doctors thought it was lymphoma, but they were just looking for proof. My teacher told me today after my lesson that they found it; her lymphoma is back.

Fortunately (if there is a fortunately in these kinds of situations), she has low-grade lymphoma, which means that it grows relatively slowly. He said that many folks with this kind of lymphoma can live with it for years and that the treatment for it is much less toxic than chemo, which she had for her last bout with lymphoma. She went for her first Rituxan treatment today and was hooked up to an IV for three hours–that’s how long it takes to get the drug in your system. My teacher said that these drugs are so toxic that if the IV comes out of your arm, they have to bring in a HazMat team to clean it up. And it’s going right into her blood!

After practice last week, Liz, our fiddle player who’s also a nephrologist (kidney doctor), was explaining to us what goes on with a bone marrow transplant (one of the treatments for myeloma, which is what Patti has). Basically, they blast your body with chemo so that every fast-diving cell in your body dies. That gets the cancer, but it also gets your hair cells, blood cells, bone marrow, and some other things that help you stay alive. Then, you’re completely prone to infection because your body has zero defenses, so they put you in a clean room for days. THEN, they inject the bone marrow cells into you and let them mulitply. Hopefully it’s your own bone marrow; otherwise you have to have all these other toxic drugs injected into you to try to get your body to accept the transplant. And then, once all this is done, because of how toxic all the drugs are, you have a 10% chance of getting lymphoma.

All this has helped me realize just how important what I’m doing is, that this isn’t about me. It’s not about me swimming, biking, and running. It’s really about me raising money to keep people like A. and Patti alive and to improve the treatments so that they don’t have to get so sick to get better.

Thanks to everyone who has donated; I’m really amazed at how generous everyone has been. If it wasn’t for people like you, A. probably wouldn’t have the treatment options she has right now. I really appreciate everyone so much for contributing, from my friends who contributed $10 (especially from them, because I know they don’t have a lot of money right now) to the people who gave me over $100.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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