This trip to Hospital Angeles has certainly been different than the last. Instead of frequent trips to the ozone sauna we are taking frequent trips from our hotel to the hospital for meals. We've opted for two organic meals a day at the hospital cafeteria and we walk the lengthy four city blocks back to the hotel afterwards. We've made numerous trips to the grocery across the street and spent this morning roaming the Mercado Hidalgo. It's highlighted in this interesting NPR story! I will say I've grown a bit tired of our routine and if there's a next time with similar treatment plan I'll do it differently by staying in San Diego (where it's easier to hang out on the beach) and make the occasional trip across the border for treatment.
When we arrived on Tuesday my blood was quickly drawn and we were told the first treatment would be Friday. That treatment consisted of a five minute IV of NK cells and a shot of interleukin. The interleukin stimulates a fever response in the body, thus stimulating malignant cells in a way that "red flags" them for attack from the Natural Killer cells. I will have my second and final treatment on Tuesday in the same fashion. This protocol was part of my original treatment here, but I'll be taking something different home. Apparently my blood chemistry had markers making me a candidate for an Autologous cell factor treatment. I will get further explanation of this on Tuesday, but the gist is a series of subcutaneous shots for the two months following this download of NKs that will stimulate the growth and production of these cells in my immune system.
This is really far out stuff and the skeptic in me raises an eyebrow at a price tag of $8000 for two five minute IVs and $3000 for some shots to take at home. As mom and I discussed, we've come to expect some sort of drama with spendy hospital stays. It's like that way we feel like we're getting our money's worth. I remind myself that there is so much going on behind the scenes in the lab with equipment that far exceeds my understanding, even with an owner's manual. And the big truth is the proof in the pudding. The fact that my last biopsy showed only a 19% cancer blast count when my oncologist in Junction expected it to be in the 80% range says a lot. If I only had 20% properly functioning cells in my bone marrow the exclamation I'd get from people when they see me would not be, "Wow, you look good!" I like hearing that I love living it.
The biggest piece of missing info that I'm itching to know is my whit blood cell count. As I've explained in past blogs, counting my WBC has become a weekly past time of mine. My last CBC before departing Colorado showed a whopping 2.5 (parameters for healthy WBC is 4.0-10.0). This was the second highest it's been since February and the 0.8 jump was double any increase or decrease I'd experienced. A snafu temporarily sunk my spirits Friday when the results I requested from my blood draw showed a WBC of 1.1. The half hour of distress quickly dissipated once I realize I was looking at records from my original arrival. Keep in mind it's all in Spanish and takes a while to decipher!
So, as Mexico celebrates its independence, this date that signifies the start of the revolution against the Spanish, I too am caught up in a bit of internal revolution. This blood and marrow of mine that was once peacefully settled by happy and healthy red and white blood cells faced a critical invasion by malignant cells. Now, inspired by the words of NK Hidalgo, they've taken up arms to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. I can hear them now... "Viva Zachariah!"
Here's the scene outside our hotel window this eve: