One of my most important questions that I cannot seem to get answered is: Is there a way to “cure” my cancer? I asked my doctor, while I was still in the hospital, if I had a bone marrow transplant, and it was successful, would I be cured and not have to take a lifelong medication? His reply was, “So, you want the whole bag of marbles, do you?” My reply was, “Yes, of course I do, doesn’t everyone?” Not quite the answer I was looking for.
From my limited understanding, chronic myelogenous leukemia is currently managed with drug therapy. Some of the leading drugs are Imatinib(Gleevec), Nilotinib(Tasigna) and Dasatinib(Sprycel). They are first, second and third generation drugs. That is all fine and dandy as long as you don’t become resistant to them or develop other life threatening conditions because of them. The first drug has been around about twelve years, the third about six. My concern is for the REALLY long term side effects and success rates of these drugs. What do they really know about them? Can a person live a productive life for 30 plus years while taking them? What happens if I become resistant to them?
I’ll tell you what happens. They put you on a waiting list for a bone marrow transplant. So, I question whether or not it is best to tackle a bone marrow transplant while I am still relatively young (hahaha) and otherwise healthy, or do I wait 15 years and them have them tell me I am too old to survive a transplant. What I do know is that I will be researching all of my options and will continue to search for a doctor that is willing to candidly discuss my concerns and give me clear, statistical based advice.
I suppose that I would be better off if I just took my pills and quit questioning everything. I just find it difficult knowing that I have cancer running through my veins to every organ and hair follicle in my body. Sometimes I just feel as though I want to run from it, to shake it out of my body, keep it away from all of my healthy organs. The very thought of your lifeline being cancerous is hard to imagine, and being managed, not cured is also a little challenging and frustrating!