Saturday, December 27, 2008
Christmas morning came early when Scott got up at 6:00 am. The kids were all up fairly soon after Scott had surveyed the Santa presents.
Tammy's parents showed up around 8:30 and we had a great day opening presents, watching snow fall, playing games, eating ham, and just enjoying everyone.
As I reflect on the past year I have so much to be thankful for but I am most thankful for my beautiful wife, Tammy, and my three awesome kids, Craig - 13, Hannah - 11, and Scott - 9.
I just wanted to let everyone know that I am hoping that 2009 holds wonderful experiences for you and yours and I wish everyone happiness and success in the coming year.
Thanks for checking in,
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Well, got the last Chemo for 2008 yesterday! It was Great! Ha Ha
Actually, the chemo was pretty easy but the platelet transfusion was a bit tricky. I reacted notice the picture and all the hives that appeared on my lovely face. Well, they went away as quickly as the came out. The doctors jumped all over it and shot me up with 3 meds. I left the hospital looking as lovely as I walked in.
My neighbor Steve Olsen was the greatest he drove us down to Columbus Ohio on Monday afternoon and when we got there to what to my wonder eyes did he have was a full blown dinner. See second picture!
We ended up watching the Bears vs. Green Bay (Bears won in OT 20-17) Actually a fun night.
We got started the next morning bright and early and made it over to the hospital at 7:30 am. We thought we were going to get out of the hospital by 3:30 but the doctors did not like my platelet levels so after the chemo they gave me 5-1 pack of platelets (five peoples platelets in one pack). Well, I had a reaction to the platelets (see picture) which slowed us down. We were in Steve's SUV at 6:00 pm.
Of course, the weather did not cooperate and Steve had do drive home in freezing rain, black ice, and finally snow. We were making good time until we hit I75 and a massive traffic jam. We ended getting home at 11:15 pm! We were both tired.
I tell you before you volunteer you better make sure your driving skills in winter weather are updated based on the last two drives back from Columbus.
Well, I don't go back until Jan. 5 and will be with my Mother for the week I have to spend down there! I get to come back Jan. 10. They are going to be adding a new drug to the regiment and they want to see the effects of the combination of the two chemo drugs. Good news the initial test results of Day 1 came back and the drug did what the researchers were expecting (killing cancer cells).
I want to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year! :) I will be spending Christmas with people I love very much, Tammy, Craig, Hannah, and Scott, My Beautiful Family!
Thanks for checking in,
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Yesterday, went good except for the horrendous drive home. But, sitting behind the Wheel was my trusty driver and good friend Rich Duntley. He was steady Eddie never wavering with coffee in his veins, an eagle eye, and ever so gentle touch of the breaks and gas, Rich was able to maneuver through freezing rain, ice, heavy snow, large trucks, bad drivers, and basically terrible road conditions. We got home safe and sound but it took and extra 1.5 hours.
Once home, I got real tired and weak and went to bed! It appears the drugs are working and are definitely the harshest drugs I have ever taken. I am working at of home today and will go back to the office on Thursday.
My side effects were dramatically less this second time. I did not experience any Diarrhea or Vomiting which was very welcome. I felt fine most of the day and only at the end of the day did I start getting pretty tired.
I feel OK today but still feel weak and tired but better than last night.
I am Neutropenic which means my 1st line infection fighting immune cells are very low. So, I will not be going to places with crowds or paling around people with colds. I have to be very diligent in hand washing and mouth care.
How can you help us not introduce colds into the Latham household by just realizing if you have a cold or been near a person with a cold. If this is the case then call or email but don't stop over and take few days and get yourself well. Also, during the time where you have a cold in house don't have Scott, Hannah, or Craig over. It is all pretty much common sense!
I have one more round on Dec. 23 and then I am off until Jan. 5.
I hope you all are getting ready of Christmas and celebrate with family and friends. We will staying around Novi most of the break (Dec. 22 to Jan 5) and it is needed.
Thanks for checking in,
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Christmas Lights Contest
First, could everyone vote for our neighbors Christmas lights display: Vote for 24023 Elizabeth Lane, Novi at the following link: http://www.freep.com/article/20081214/MULTI/81212116/1001/NEWS
I am returning to OSU on Monday night for Tuesday treatment. I was told that it should go a bit smoother than last time.
I will keep everyone posted!
My daughter, Hannah, says Hi! She Loves all of you! <333333 (heart) <== Hannah typed this!
Bye for now,
Friday, December 12, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am glad Tuesday is over! It was not fun. I started on time and received the Flavoripodol at 8:00 to 12:30. It is a powerful drug and causes cell death very quickly which can overload the kidneys, so, we monitor the potassium levels very closely. I never went high on my potassium because the doctors would not let me they intervened the moment it began to rise.
I first took medicine the causes diarrhea and then took medicine to cause urination and the combined drugs caused vomiting. So, I literally was going from all ends all day long. Needless to say I did not feel very well. My night was much better I took a sleeping pill and slept like a baby.
I feel much better today about 85% and was able to sit on the bike and pedal for 15 minutes to work it out a bit.
I should be getting checked out around noon and hopefully go shopping with Tammy for Christmas presents. We still need to remain in Columbus until tomorrow when I have to give one more blood draw. We expect to back home Thursday afternoon.
Here is the Good News:
- My WBC dropped in 1/2 from 7.7 to 3.2
- My visible lymph nodes under my arms shrunk to normal levels
- My other blood numbers look good with the exception of the pesky platelets which are now 27 (low)
Summary: The drug appears to be initially working as advertised! :)
Thanks for checking in,
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
We checked in to the hospital today at 2:00 pm and are sitting getting ready for the drugs tomorrow morning bright and early at 5:00 am.
You know how the devil is in the details, well, I am learning a whole lot more about this clinical trail process. Here is what I have learned so far:
- I am on the transplant floor and they measure everything that goes in and out of my body (literally... Not fun)
- 10:00 pm receive saline through Port (All Night: I will be peeing a lot)
- 5:00 am receive IV in arm for blood labs
- Receive drugs to lower potassium (makes you go #1 and #2) not fun :(
- Receive chemo at 8:00 am and 9:00 am (2 bags takes 4 1/2 hours)
- Blood Labs 5:00am, 8:30, 9:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 1:00pm, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, 7:00, 8:30
- Blood Labs 8:30 am,
- Discharge from Hospital
- Stay in Hotel Wednesday
- Blood Labs 8:30 am
- Go Home!
Met with the doctors and nurses and all have been very nice and pleasant! I am very impressed with their attention to detail! I feel that I am in very good hands!
My platelets are still misbehaving so we need to deal with them! They are at 40 today! :(
All in all I am very comfortable and ready to begin the trail tomorrow! Tammy is right by my side and drilling the doctors and nurses with lots of questions! I love her!
Well, thanks for checking in. I will post again tomorrow to keep everyone up to date with what is happening.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Boy am I glad Monday is over.
Tammy and I took the kids down to Columbus on Sunday to see the Hospital and where I go when seeing the doctors. We hope it helps them understand more about the whole process.
On Monday, I had to be at the hospital at 9:00 AM
Here was my day
- Arrive at 9:00
- Check In & Wait
- Sign 20 page contract for clinical study & Wait
- Get IV & Wait
- Give 10 vials of blood & Wait
- Get a Bone Marrow Biopsy & Wait
- Drink barium (2 vanilla containers) & Wait
- Get CT Scan & Wait
- Drive Home with Family (Tammy Drove)
It was a full day and a lot of waiting!
Everything went fine and I am doing good!
Next Up: Port install on Thursday!
Thanks for checking in,
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I just got done taken pictures of Jeff and Carol's Christmas lights! (Across the street neighbors.) They do such a wonderful job on their display! Tammy and I are going to enter them into a local Christmas lights contest!
Stop over and check out the lights!
I thought I would give an update to what is going on here at camp Latham! We are traveling down to Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, Nov. 30 to spend an evening with the kids at the Marriott. We are going to show them where I go when visiting the doctors. On Monday, I will be getting a bone marrow biopsy and CT Scan to get a baseline where I am at. We will be returning home Monday after the tests are completed.
Next Thursday, Dec. 4 I will be getting the port put in and my mother is coming in town on Saturday to watch the kids the following week when Tammy and I go back to OSU for the 1st round of treatment.
You might remember that this time I am getting the experimental drugs and have to stay in the hospital for three days in case I grow an extra eye or something.
It is a lot of precaution for hopefully a whole lot of nothing when it comes to side effects.
My spirits are good and I am ready to get this portion of the treatment process done so we can move on to transplant.
It has been nice being home the last few days and I especially like spending time with the kids.
We will keep you posted as to the progress of the treatments.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
It is 12:50 am and I can't sleep. I keep thinking about the upcoming treatments and eventually the long awaited stem cell transplant.
It is funny when your up late and have the house to yourself and hearing all the various noises you never hear when the kids are awake and the house is rocking.
Anyways, I wanted to let you know some of the things I have to do before I start the treatments. The first was to get a procedure call EGD, this is when they put a scope down your throat looking for problems. Did that last Tuesday and I still don't feel like myself.
The next procedure is a bone marrow biopsy followed by the CT scan and to wrap it up they now want to insert a "port" (a line that is put into my chest that taps into my main arteries). I will only have this in for about 9 months. :)
I have do all this before I start treatments!
I tell you this because it sucks! I don't like any of it and I am a bit tired of having to put up with it!
But, now that I have vented a bit, I am happy I have options! :)
We all have to do things we don't want to at some point in our lives! Ex. Going off to war, Putting up with a bad boss, dealing with cancer, etc.
What I have learned is I can do one of two things:
1) Feel sorry for myself and complain and make the ones I love feel pity for me
2) Man Up and walk with God as I face the challenge.
I choose #2!
I'm going to bed now!
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sorry, I have taken a few weeks off updating the blog. I was enjoying everyday life! Well, enough of that it seems I can't get enough of the Leukemia stuff.
The leukemia is back and my doctors and I have decided to attack it this time with a clinical triaal which is currently only offered at Ohio State University. I will begin the clinical trial in December.
The clinical trial should help me to get into a remission. The downside is that I have to go to OSU for the treatments. The schedule is fairly aggressive and will require some time away from home while receiving the chemo. The treatment will last up to six months.
We are still planning to do the Stem Cell Transplant using cord blood but will wait until 1) I am in a good remission and 2) the BMT clinical trial is available (paper work issue).
Physically, I still feel fine and am not experiencing any difficulties.
I will still be able to work and do most of my normal activities while going through treatments. I will be more immune suppressed, so, shaking hands and kissing babies will have to stop.
I am almost to the transplant finish line, but have to get myself back into a remission.
I appreciate all the prayers and well wishes, so, keep them coming they really do help!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Scott's football team made it to the Superbowl (the championship game) The game is tomorrow afternoon...Go Bobcats!
Hannah has her first volleyball game tomorrow. She was just chosen as student of the month in gym class.
Gary is feeling pretty good. He has noticed some of his lymph nodes starting to swell. We travel to OSU on Monday. On Tuesday he is going to have a EGD procedure to enlarge his narrow esophagus. It is supposed to be a simple procedure which he has avoided the last forty years.
That's enough news for now.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
I have been at football games all day long today and would like to report that Scott's team won 24 to 12 and Craig's team will get them next time.
Wow, how one week can change everything! If you read the previous posting you now realize my OSU doctors want to wait until next year before doing the transplant. Just so you know that is fine by me! I never really wanted to do the transplant but thought that if it could offer a cure that I just might give it a go. Anyways, I will be able to be home for the Holidays! I plan on decorating the house with a whole lot of Christmas lights this year.
The OSU doctors have said my disease is stable which is why they are willing to wait on the transplant. I like stable! Stable is good!
So, if you want to know what I am doing now that I am stable let me tell you. Living my fabulously ordinary life and loving every minute of it.
Here is wishing you a fabulously ordinary life, too!
Thanks for checking in,
Monday, September 29, 2008
A transplant is still recommended but a "mini transplant" not the "full transplant". We feel most comfortable having the transplant at Ohio State with a transplant doctor that specializes in CLL. In order to do a double cord blood transplant at OSU some "paperwork" needs to be approved. This process could take up to 6 months. During this waiting period it would be nice if an adult donor is found. It would also be nice for the CLL to stay in control in Gary's body.
Thats the quick update for now!
PS. Gary went on his first business trip since January last week. He forgot/did not pack the Purell. He spent the weekend in bed with a fever and bad cold. He is feeling better today with the help of antibiotics.
Monday, September 15, 2008
As you read in our previous posting, Fork in the Road, we have to make a decision on moving forward with or without the transplant.
I want to let everyone understand that it is a really big decision kinda like Getting Married, Having Kids, etc. in that the decision is permanent. No Going Back, so you want to get it right!
In this case if I get it wrong the results can be very serious (not good) but if we get it right I can be cured of Leukemia!
The doctors do understand a whole lot on this but do not know everything (risk).
After I have been considering all the scenarios it basically reconfirms that I am not in control but He is (GOD).
I have boiled it all down to am I ready to Trust God completely with whatever decision we make.
I would like to ask Everyone to pray that:
1) We listen to what God is telling us
2) We Trust him completely
3) We have success
I, also, think this can apply to all of you!
We meet with OSU doctors on Sept. 29, we will keep you posted.
Thanks for checking in,
Thursday, September 11, 2008
blood transplant or turn left and wait for the Leukemia to come back ??
We need to make a decision and at this point are not sure which way to turn.
Yes - Gary is a good candidate for a double cord blood transplant. But the transplant
involves risk and no guaranteed results.
Yes - the CLL is likely to return. When and how aggressively will it return- we don't know.
We are in the process to weighing the options. We will consult again with doctors.
Ultimately the decision is ours....which way to turn???
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Yes, I have finally risen above the 50K level on platelets, 53K to be exact. When it comes to platelets 50K is a threshold of sorts; above 50K and they watch it below 50K and they treat it! We have been juggling cancer and platelet treatments since February.
So, where am I on the old health-o-meter?
I would have to say on a zero to ten scale (ten being Olympic athlete) I am at a solid 7.87658954! :)
Just under: able to run 1 mile, but slightly above: walking briskly for 2.1 miles. :)
Tangent: People have said I have the same characteristics as Michael Phelps' except for the height, swimming talent, web feet, millions of dollars, very short haircut, goofy smile, and a few other items; which is why I thought of the Olympic comparison. Ha Ha :)
Seriously, getting the platelets above 50K is very good and allows me to move into the next phase of treatment!
Yes, we are talking about transplant! We have a few more test to run and if those checkout then I will be ready to go to transplant.
Yesterday, my OSU doctors informed me that they have found a transplant donor match for me.
The match is from two umbilical cord blood samples that some smart parents donated to the National Donor Registry. The frozen umbilical cord blood samples are waiting for some guy like me to come along and need them. So, for $50K dollars you too can have frozen umbilical cord blood.
I am serious about this, it seems crazy but this is the reality we all live in. It appears the umbilical cord blood which is harvested and stored after the baby is born is very rich in stem cells (baby blood cells) and works great for transplants. The problem is the volume of the sample is smaller then what an adult needs so we have to double it which is why you need two cord blood samples. The transplant process is the same after they give me the blood. The transplant process carries more risk of infection but less risk of graft vs host disease. This is a relatively new transplant process so on our OSU doctors recommendations we are going for a second opinion at the University of Minnesota. OSU has only performed a handful of cord blood transplants. But the Golden Gophers have pioneered this type of transplant over the last few years.
Except for the minor side effects of losing all wrinkles, gaining back my hair, developing buns and abs of steel and having the youthful appearance of a 21 year old, I should make it through this difficult procedure. :)
We will not have timing until after I go through the remaining tests. So, you will just have to wait for that nugget of information.
I am not done with this Leukemia stuff just yet and fear the hardest part is still ahead but I feel blessed and know GOD has been working miracles for me every step of the way.
We will keep you informed, so, just check back in once and a while for the latest information...
Thanks for stopping by,
Monday, August 11, 2008
I do! Well, I have some platelets that is! I am still low but my platelet level increased this week and I am very happy to tell you that I am now at 33 (normal is 150 to 300).
The goal is to get above 50, at a minimum . I have been taking a drug that is helping to increase the platelets while decreasing the immune system. It appears to be working!
We still have not found a perfect match but continue to rely on God to provide a cure in his time not mine.
I am still walking and trying to get myself into better shape. I want to get buff! :)
I just thought I would share the platelet news.
Still need more but moving in the right direction!
Thanks for you prayers and cards!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Now about the new shoes.....Gary decided that he needed new running shoes so he could get serious about exercising. In order to "break them in" we walked around the block (4 mile block) it was long and hot but he made it home. We are on a roll and have been doing 2 mile walks for 3 nights in a row.
Please continue to pray for a well matched donor for Gary, an increase in platlets and his continued strength to keep walking.
Monday, July 21, 2008
His platelets are still very low (11 today) so he is going to take an oral drug which we hope will help to raise the platelets. This drug still has the same side effects as chemotherapy of lowering the immune system so he needs to be careful not to get any infections (he will keep the Purell in his pocket) At this point the plan is to take the drug for 5 weeks and see if the platelets increase.
Overall Gary feels pretty good. He has a great desire to exercise(at least he talks about it frequently) and eat well he just needs to work harder on the execution of that desire :)
We ask for your continued prayers to keep Gary strong and infection free and for a perfectly matched donor.
1770's seeing the buildings and especially listening to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. We also spent some time at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. Tammy's parents spent the week with us- it was great time.
Unfortunately on the drive home we had a tire blowout on the Pennsylvania turnpike which
delayed our trip a few hours.
The day after we got home Craig and Hannah went to Evart Michigan to spend a week at Springhill Camp. They were so excited. Scott is looking forward to being the "only kid" for
the week and Tammy missed them the minute we drove out of camp.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
We have good news! Well basically my bone marrow has little cancer burdened, no cancer in peripheral blood, and lymph nodes are clean and normal size.
So, we got what we wanted and that is the Leukemia is beat down! Although we know it will not last very long! Because of the nature of Leukemia the cancer will begin to grow again.
So, What is next!
1) I am now ready for the Transplant but must wait until we find a "Perfect or Nearly Perfect Match"
2) Since, we know the "Cancer" is not cured until after a Transplant I am going to enter into a clinical study at Ohio State University! I will be meeting with the OSU team at the end of July. This clinical study has seen some tremendous results and Dr. Bryd feels it would help me get into a "Durable Remission" which allows us to wait for a "Perfect Match" for the transplant.
Both, Tammy and I are very happy with the progress I have made against this Leukemia. Over the next few months my body will begin to recover back to normal levels as the bone marrow recovers it normal operating processes. (They say it can take 6 to 12 months to fully recover!)
Personally I feel very blessed to have gotten this far! It has been a while since I was able to feel good about my body!
I want to Thank Everyone for your continued prayers and words of encouragement it has and always helps me everyday! Also, I would like to ask you to pray for a "Perfect Match" so we can put the Leukemia behind us permanently!
I hope you have a GREAT 4th of July, My Family and I will!
Thanks for checking in,
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
I was recently given the gift of 1000 paper cranes from the foreign language students at Novi Meadows School (Hannah's school). They were given with a wish to make me well. It is a Japanese custom to give 1000 hand folded paper cranes to someone who is ill to wish a quick recovery. Our family feels very honored to receive this gift.
We have become friends with a Japanese family in our neighborhood the Nishigaki's. Etsuko has been working for many weeks to create 1000 paper cranes with the same wish of good health. She has made over 220 so far. Her circle of paper cranes hangs next to the cranes
from the Meadows students.
We are so appreciative of all of the support from the community!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Yes, the Steroids are working! I just got done taking 4 days worth and basically all my visible lymph nodes are normal size! It is simply amazing that these little pills can basically wipe out months of swelling.
I now get a few days off of the Steroids and then start back up for another 4 days worth. Our goal is simply to blast the cancer out of the lymph system. I will repeat this 4 day on/off cycle two more times.
We are making progress! And my overall health is improving! :)
I have to do this until mid July when we will evaluate my overall (Bone Marrow, Blood, Lymph Nodes) progress.
The ultimate goal is to get into the stem cell transplant process and cure this ugly beast of Leukemia.
I look normal and feel good! I am having a good start to summer and hope that each of you are enjoying yours!
Take care and thanks for checking in,
Friday, June 13, 2008
Do I look Green like the "Incredible Hulk"!
You probably guessed it and yes I am now on Steroids!
Not your common garden variety but Heavy Duty Man Size Steroids for the next month!
The goal is to lower the lymph nodes swelling and raise the platelets. In the process I can become:
- Huge like the Hulk :)
- Not able to sleep
- Large not hulk variety but wide (fat)
- etc., etc.
I am happy to be on Steroids because they work and work fast!
We met with our OSU (phone) and UofM (visit) doctors and they want to do this for a month.
After that we are going to re-evaluate and decide what to do next...
This is all good news if you weren't sure. Also, we get to take our vacation in mid-July!
I am getting close to transplant time and speaking of that we have expanded the search, so a donor is probably within the next two months.
On the Family Front
Hannah had her 11th birthday today and is very excited about all her presents.
All the kids are out of school and Summer is here! :)
I will keep you posted on the "Hulk" process and the transplant stuff!
Thanks for checking in...
Friday, June 6, 2008
You might have guessed but a big part of dealing with a disease is waiting.
- Wait for a Doctor's Appointment
- Wait for a Test / Procedure
- Wait for the results
- Wait for insurance
- Wait for your prayers to be answered
What I have been learning throughout this process is Patience!
It is very tough especially being the type of guy who goes nuts if my computer doesn't start fast enough. I live in a world where everything is fast and getting faster. So, it is very difficult to learn, let alone practice, patience from where I sit. But, that is exactly what I have to do.
So, here is the update!
We did not meet with the OSU doctor this week and we do not have an appointment for next week. He is in the process of putting together a plan for me which involves talking with the UofM doctor. We will learn more on Monday!
On the Stem Cell Donor Matching Process we have not found a match. We are still looking but at this point we have to wait for someone to join the registry who matches me. (Someone from Novi would be great!)
My Health, well it is not getting better but seems to have plateaued. Except for me platelets which keep setting new personal lows. Pray that I don't hit 10 or below or I will start getting infusions of platelets. Otherwise, from a way I feel I still go to work and go to the kids activities but I have to avoid large groups of people. (Immune system still low) I have been trying to get more exercise and have been riding my bike a few times each week. I really don't have a lot of extra energy but am able to do normal activities within reason.
My Mental Health, I feel happy and supported by God, Family, and Friends. It is really strange but this time around I have not been fearful but have trusted God throughout this whole process and he has really taken the burden off my shoulders. All of your prayers and help has made a world of difference.
So, I want to ask you to keep praying and to have a great weekend.
Thanks for checking in,
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Well, we got mixed news yesterday!
The Good News!
The bone marrow biopsy showed that cancer has been reduced from 70% to 10% in the bone marrow. Since, I have had only 2 chemo rounds to reduce the cancer in the marrow we are very happy!
The Not So Good News!
Although, the current chemo I am taking is working in the marrow it is not working in the lymph nodes. So, what to do! Go Back To OSU (Ohio State University).
We are being encouraged to participate in a clinical trial being conducted at OSU. We will be meeting with our old friend, Dr. Byrd within the next week to discuss it. So, good bye U of M hello OSU!
Overall I am still feeling OK! Over the past weekend I did experience some low grade fevers but it turned out to be nothing. Of course to be safe I was given chest x-ray, blood tests, and antibiotics. I did not realize that people who's immune system is completely screwed up, like mine, can have a low grade fever with no other symptoms and die because of a rampant infection. So, we take any type of fever pretty seriously now.
My platelets are still low but the bone marrow biopsy showed that due to the chemo my manufacturing capacity has been lowered. Over time I should start producing more. We just need to watch it.
I realize there is a lot here but I thought everyone would like to know what is going on!
My spirits are high, my sister, Patti, is in town visiting, and my family is doing well. Overall, I am a happy man and trust in God to provide.
Thanks for checking in,
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Yesterday I was supposed to start Treatment but my numbers were to low. Specifically, my platelets were not high enough for me to start treatment. So, we are going to delay 1 week and try again next Monday.
The silver lining in all this is that I got to watch Scotty's 1st baseball game and unlike the Tigers they won 11-10.
Unfortunately, I have to get a bone marrow biopsy today to get data as to why the platelets are not bouncing back. The biopsy will also show if the treatments are reducing the disease in the marrow. Please, pray that the disease is being reduced!
We are still waiting for all of your donor registrations to be put into the database, so I can find a match. Patience is what I am learning in all of this.
It is Craig's birthday today! He is 13 years old!
Thanks for checking in,
Monday, May 19, 2008
What a Great Success the Bone Marrow Drive was yesterday! If it wasn't for the leadership of Karen Welch, the support of all the volunteers, and the great response from the community we would not have had over 400 new Bone Marrow Registry's from this one drive.
Applause for Everyone!
So, in the next 4 to 6 weeks when you get called to donate for a 41 yr. old, male, married with 3 kids, you might be the miracle we are looking for. :)
Seriously, it was heart warming seeing so many friends and family support me and the other people in need.
We are very over whelmed and grateful for every one's support.
Gary & Tammy
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday May 18th
St James Catholic Church
46325 10 Mile Road Between Taft & Beck Roads
Due to the Thanks Mom campaign it will be free to join the registry. To take part in it, you simply need to swab the inside of your cheek; no blood drawn at this time! Participation places your information on a registry as a potential marrow donor. For more information, please visit marrow.org. If you are unable to attend on Sunday a kit can be requested online just do it before 5/19 so it will be free.
If you are able to help out at the drive contact Karen Welch email@example.com
Monday, May 5, 2008
I get asked alot from friends like you "How can I help?" Well the answer is to become a Registered Bone Marrow Donor.
The Marrow Donation Program is running a special the next few weeks. The usual charge of $52 to join the registry will be waived due to the Thanks Mom campaign running May 5-19th.
Donors must be between the ages of 18-60.
Look to the left and you will see a link.
It is easy to become a donor and in 90% of all Bone Marrow Transplants the donor just has to give a pint of blood. So, if you have donated blood to the red cross it is basically the same thing!
We will keep posting Bone Marrow drives in the Detroit area for people to go to. Below are three that are friend Karen Welch has found:
LOCATIONS & DATES:
May 11 (8:30am-1:30 pm)- St, Aiden Catholic Church, 17500 Middlebelt Rd, Livonia. 734-425-5950
May 13 (2:00-8:00pm)- Antioch Lutheran Church, 33360 W. 13 Mile, Farmington Hills. 248-762-8480
May 18 (9:00am-2:00pm)- St. John NeumannChurch, 44800 Warren Rd., Canton. 734-455-7187
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
We went to U of M on Monday and were there for 9 hours. No Fun! Nothing unusal they were just running slow.
We had a nice visit from our pastor, Dr. Miller, and enjoyed discussing many differnt items.
Tuesday and Wednesday were much quicker; we were in and out in 2 1/2 hours. I feel good and look forward to having another 25 days off.
I plan to attend Craig's track meet tonight and after I will probalby crash.
So far I have not experienced to much pain and hope to stay that way.
I would like to ask everyone to ask God to find a donor for me for a stem cell transplant. I know he will answer our prayers and just wanted everyone to realize that we are searching at this time.
Thanks for checking in,
Friday, April 25, 2008
During the last few weeks I have been living life. Sorry I haven't provided many updates to the blog but really there wasn't much to update.
My overall health is good and I am continuing my treatments next Monday!
We expect it to continue to improve my blood numbers which inturn should make me feel better.
On a lighter note, I was able to catch a Detroit Tigers game with Scotty and my neighbor, Dan and his son, Ryan the other night and we were treated to a slug fest! Tigers 19 Texas 6.
I will be updating the blog all next week so check back.
Thanks for checking in,
Friday, April 18, 2008
Who wants to save another persons life?
The Test (Puts you on the National Donor Registry)
- Cheek Swab for tissue sample
The Donation (If you are ever asked to become a donor!)
- A pint of blood
That is all it takes!
Consider adding yourself to the donar registry! Who knows you might save a life!
Here is how you can get on the registry:
Step 1: Click the Link: http://www.marrow.org/HELP/Join_the_Donor_Registry/index.html
Step 2: Read and Learn
Step 3: Click the Join the Registry Link: http://www.marrow.org/HELP/Join_the_Donor_Registry/Join_Now/join_now.html
Unfortuately, at this time the process is not free it cost $52 to have your tissue sample tested and added to the registry.
The good news is your employer might cover the cost!
I hope everyone will consider adding yourself to registry.
You might save a life!
Monday, April 7, 2008
Well, the past weekend was an exciting ride at the Latham house!
First, my wonderful wife attended Ann Moenings fund raiser for Leukemia, of which I am a poster boy! (website http://www.active.com/donate/hfdmi/hfdAMoenin) Ann and her friends put on a great evening raising money for Leukemia research and Tammy "Swivel Hips" Latham won the Hula-Hoop contest with a time of 4 min and 53 seconds. People familiar with the contest said she could have gone longer but all the competition had collapsed, needless-to-say she brought home a few prizes. Great Time was had by all!
Second, all the kids had games and events and just loved being outside on the first real nice weekend of spring.
Finally, I was sick as a dog on Saturday morning but felt much better in the afternoon and really enjoyed Sunday!
I hope everyone had a great weekend!
Thanks for checking in on the Blog!
Friday, April 4, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Treatment 14 is done; quickest yet. I feel good and was able to go to work during the afternoon.
Tammy has been by my side the whole time and keeping me happy.
Not much more to report. Keep checking in for more details.
Monday, March 31, 2008
We started the second phase of treatments today. Everything went well!
I got treatment at a satellite center of UofM where everything is supposed to be nice and calm. We saw two people get taking by ambulance to UofM Hospital. The nurse told me this was not a common occurrence; but two in 1 day what is a guy to think.
We have a friend who works at this facility, Dr. Larry McMaster, who was able to join Tammy and I with his lovely wife Collen for lunch. It was pretty interesting, here I am getting a whole bunch of drugs, (11) if you count all the different types of pills, having a great lunch with great people. Really, it is amazing, I don't get this nice of a lunch when I'm feeling great! Collen and and Larry thanks for making the day a bit nicer.
So, we came home to a nice chicken and pasta dinner (Acts of Kindness strikes again) which was simply awesome.
We go back Tuesday and Wednesday for a few hours.
By the way I am working the entire time. Doctors told me to keep working! I love it!
Thanks for checking in,
Saturday, March 29, 2008
We have been keeping a journal of all the "Acts of Kindness" that people have been providing our family and we wanted to express our heart felt gratitude. Without naming everyone we felt it would be more appropriate to just list out all the "Acts of Kindness".
In no particular order:
- We have had lots of yummy dinners over the past months and this has been a great help!
Dinner out at a Resturant with Friends
- We like to get out and spend time with our friends talking, etc.
- Multiple times people have shoveled our driveway and walks... what a great feeling to have the snow gone when we get home.
Caring Phone Calls
- Believe me it feels great to have people call and genuinely have concern for us.
- We have gotten funny, serious, religious, exciting, and musical cards all encouraging me to get better and stay calm.
Rides to Activities for the Kids
- Everyone knows how much this can help during busy times to have rides for the kids.
Rides to UofM
- It made it much easier to be able to get to UofM and have Tammy show up a bit later!
Bread, Bread, Bread
- I love the Bread!
Pie, Pie, Pie
- Can we all say Mmmmmmmm!
Grapes, Grapes, Grapes
- Green Grapes Are So Good from Joe's
- Craig loves his watermelon
- People who come with me to Chemo and suffer through the boredom.
Hot Cross Buns
- Have you ever had a Hot Cross Bun, you must try it if you haven't.
- Who wants a cookie... everyone!
- We have received many wonderful books!
- Mmmm, Mmmm, Homemade Good!
- I love it!
- I love it
- Meat and Potatoes, Mmmmm.
- Cluck Cluck Mmmmm.
- I love the chili
- We love it!
Visits from Denver
- It is always good to see my older sister!
- Keep them coming!
- Blogging is fun!
Words of Encouragement
- It always helps for positive reinforcement
Taking our kids out to Dinner
- It is nice to be by ourselves knowing the kids are in good hands.
Watching the Dog
- Tootsie loves to visit
Treats from far away
- I love getting stuff in the mail.
Gifts of all types,
- Some small, some large, but all having great meaning to us!
and finally and most importantly,
- The power of prayer is more important than any other thing people can do for me. I trust Jesus for my healing and it always helps to have a few prayers coming in for me.
We probably didn't get everything but all we can say is
Gary & Tammy
Friday, March 28, 2008
Tammy and I met with the UofM people yesterday and Platelets are up even further! Good News!
Since there is no time like the present, we will begin Phase II on Monday, March 31.
I will be getting treatments at UofM Canton Medical Center.
The program is a bit different than what we thought going in. I will receive treatment Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then wait 25 days and do it all over again.
It looks like I will be getting tested every two months to check my progress.
I feel and look great, Remember it's not how you feel but how you look darling!
Seriously, I do feel good!
I will be working the whole time, which makes me pretty happy!
Thanks for all the prayers and support!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
We arrived home last night from OSU at 11:30 pm; we actually left our last doctor at 8:00 pm. Good News! My blood numbers are better (Platelets up 50%)! The specialist we saw wants me to go through two months of treatment and check and see where I am at. He suggested that I might not have to go through the 6 months I thought I was going to have to do. We go to UofM to get the schedule for the treatments on Thursday. My doctor wants me to continue to work during the treatments which actually made me happy.
Brackets: I am in first place at work and tied for first place at home. I have chosen North Carolina to go all the way!
Check out the new name of the Blog “Latham’s Lowdown”. (Thanks Holly!)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I have been slacking! Treatment 12 done gone and ended! I do not have to go to Rituxan treatment anymore!
More Good News, the platelet number rose 25% on Friday up to 25! Positive news!
Over the weekend Hannah got the Flu and had to stay at Grandma Kahl's house. Both, Tammy and I started taking Tamiflu preventatively.
Tammy had to drive Craig to a soccer tournament in Richmond Virgina and it took abut 12 hours one-way. No fun!
On Sunday before they started back Craig got the flu, so, Tammy started him on Tamiflu.
Everyone if you get the flu, get your doctor to give you a prescription of Tamiflu. It works! Hannah was back to school on Monday and Craig was back on Wednesday.
My sister, BJ, was in town over the weekend and we had a good time just visiting. We never get to talk for more than a few hours, so, it was nice to talk for a few days.
We go to OSU and UofM next week. We will keep you posted.
Have a great Easter,
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Treatment 11 done and gone! One more to go!
Remember, I told you that I had to start letting the nurses use my forearm for the IV, well today I offered up the forearm but the nurse said I can use your hand. So, I said great! She missed… POKE 2 (I have already given blood for … POKE 1). After she missed she had to go do something so Nurse 2 stops by POKE 3… Ok I am starting to get upset but you got to keep your cool with the Nurses. POKE 4… Success! All is better.
I only have one more IV before a few weeks of no Hospital! The current schedule is to meet Dr. Byrd at OSU on March 24, right after Easter and then meet with Dr. Kujawski at UofM on March 27. I think it is kind of funny that I have to see doctors at arguably the biggest rival in sports.
We should know what we are going to do next after we meet with the doctors, but if you want my guess, I think we are going to start Chemo – Fludarabine, Cytoxon, and Rituxan (FCR) on March 31. Here is how it works:
- Week 1 – Receive Chemo Monday through Friday; it will take about 6 to 8 hours each day
- Week 2 – Recover; Feel tired around day 10 – 14; Able to catch colds easier; stay at home
Week 3 – Recover; Possibility to lose hair, I didn’t last time, so I am hoping I do not this time.
- Week 4 – Regain strength; feel better
Month 2 – 6
Repeat Week 1 – 4 You probably noticed we have changed the title of the blog a few times. Tammy thought we could improve the blog with the new title. Let us know if you like it?
Thanks to everyone for the dinners, cards, rides, and sitting with me during chemo! All of you have made it a lot easier for us.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Treatment 10 complete! We had a bit of good news today my blood numbers got better. :)
I decided to allow the nurse today to put the IV in my arm. I am a bit funny about the place where they poke me. Normally, I let them use my hands but lately (actually 4 out of the last 5 times) they have had to poke me twice because my hands need a rest (to many IV and blood draws). So, I let them go out of my forearm. I didn't want to but Tammy was saying, "You're a baby let them use your arm. Be a man. Where's your purse Alice?" so, as you can see, I was forced to offer up my forearm. Well, once I showed the nurse my virgin arm she was like, "Why have you been keeping this from me. This is a goldmine. Oh, I can't wait to get your IV started."
It hurt, real bad! She made me bleed my own blood! :0 I almost cried but I held back my tears. I'm just kidding, it did not hurt too bad and I will probably start letting them use my arms.
We saw the PA and have decided to continue the Rituxan and wait until March 24th to see the doctor. Probably in April I will start Hardcore Chemo... actually I suspect I should be able to handle it fairly well. The chemo will take about 6 months.
My sister is visiting this weekend from Denver and Tammy is going to take Craig to a soccer tournament in Richmond, VA.
Thanks for checking in,
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Treatment 9 done and over! Ok, my blood numbers are basically what they were when I started. So, the way I figure it they should only get better from here on out.
Some of you might have been noticing that I am not shaking hands or giving out kisses (Ha Ha) anymore. The reason is that I can catch a cold much easier than the normal person. A side effect of the DRUGS, see my rapid defense immune system is on siesta ("nap" for you non-Spanish speaking individuals).
So, what is the proper protocol when greeting Gary? Well, I would prefer everyone bow and then kneel down but that might be a bit over the top, so, how about we just say “Howdy Partner” (Ha Ha). Really it is pretty easy, just greet me the same way you always do and I will remember to tell you I can’t shake hands.
Life is pretty good right now, I was able to coach Craig’s basketball team, and (OK, actually Dan Welch coached and I took notes. THANKS DAN), I coached Hannah’s basketball team (I really did! Ok, Todd Statezny coached and I took notes. THANKS Todd), and I setup the PowerPoint at the Green Gala (I Did!).
Everyone thanks for everything! Keep the comments coming!
Stay Happy and Enjoy Life!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Talk with you then,
Monday, March 3, 2008
We just got back from U of M and everything went well. Blood numbers are still improving.
We are planning to go see our Ohio State University doctor on March 24th to determine the next phase of treatments. We are hopeful that the Rituxan treatments will be sufficient to get me into Complete Remission, so I can start the Stem Cell transplant. But, we know that the probabilities are low this will happen. We can still pray for it!
I am going to be starting a “Random Acts of Kindness” posting, so, look for in the next few days! I decided to do this because many wonderful people have respond with dinners, rides, having the kids over, snow shoveling, staying with me at treatment, gifts, phone calls, emails, cards, and most important prayers. It amazes me how small acts of kindness like these have a huge impact in my life and my family’s life. So, keep a look out for the “Random Acts of Kindness” posting.
One last important item for those who are in the Novi Community School District, please consider attending the Novi Educational Foundation “Green Gala 2008” this coming Saturday, March 8th at 7:00 pm held at the Rock Financial Showplace. I am a trustee for the NEF and we have the annual fundraiser to support the teacher grants and scholarships we issue each school year. You can purchase tickets by calling: 248-449-1206 and please just ask to purchase “Green Gala” tickets. You can find more information at the NCSD website: http://www.novi.k12.mi.us/default.aspx
Hope to see you there!
Until we meet again,
Friday, February 29, 2008
Ok, I didn’t post after Treatment 5. But, basically everything went well with Treatment 5 and 6. I was able to get in and out in about 5 hours. My blood numbers are looking better! Your prayers are working.
What I want to talk about today are my friends Ann Moening, Ross Perich, and Galvin Main who are hiking for a cure, biking for a cure, and triathloning for a cure . Ann, Ross and Galvin are raising money for Leukemia research and I am their poster child.
Seriously, Ann is trying to raise $3,700 for Leukemia. If you would like to help Ann reach her goal click the following link:
Ann - Hike for a Cure!
If you would like to help Ross reach his goal of raising $10,000 for Leukemia research click the following link:
Ross - Bike for a Cure!
If you would like to help Gavin reach his goal of raising $5,000 for Leukemia research click the following link:
Gavin – Triathlon for a Cure!
Isn’t this a great world we live in when people can help others by doing things they love to do.
Everyone have a wonderful weekend! I plan on it!
Until we meet again,
Monday, February 25, 2008
Well, I am sitting here at U of M drinking a nice warm Café Mocha and listening to my iPod. The day went well, met with the doctor and we are starting to show some positive trends in the blood but still have a long way to go. (Positive Trend in Blood Numbers is GOOD! :)
Tammy stayed with me most of the time but had to bug out to take the kids to the Dentist. I am waiting for her to return and pick me up.
Funny thing happened while I was receiving the IV. See, I had scheduled a conference call to review a project at work with my development team in South America and while I was conducting the conference call this nice massage therapist shows up and ask if I would like a massage. Well, what is a guy to do, of course I responded yes. So, I am sitting there getting chemo therapy and a neck massage, conducting a conference call with guys in South America, checking my email over the internet with my laptop, and if that weren’t enough the nurse shows up to take my vital signs (blood pressure, temp). I said to myself this is a great world we live in. I didn’t skip a beat! See it is all in the way you look at it! The Glass is Half Full!
I want to thank everyone for the continued prayers and support, it really makes a difference.
Until we meet again,
Friday, February 22, 2008
I took the Rituxan again this morning and again no problems.
The fun part about today was John Giragosian, my friend, neighbor, and dentist stepped up to the plate and took me to treatment.
He got up pretty early to pick me up at 6:45 am on a cold snow filled morning.
It was nice having John there to talk with, of course, around 9:00 am I fell asleep and was pretty much out the next 1 ½ hours, damn Benadryl.
If you don’t know John, know this, it is people like John that offer small acts of kindness who make my life worth living.
John, Thanks for Being There!
Well, the kids are on their way back from Florida with Tammy and should arrive sometime before 5:00 pm. I really have missed them and am very excited to see them.
Thanks for checking in on the blog!
Until we meet again,
A few people have asked about making comments.
Step 1: At the end of the current listing there is the word "comment". Click it and follow the directions.
Step 2: I can respond to your comments directly in the blog or individually.
Early I said there was pencil I was mistaken.
I am off to U of M.
Until We Meet Again
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I just finished the second day of Rituxan and it went much better than day 1.
I did not have any allergic reactions and was done within 4 1/2 hours.
As part of the transfusion they give me Benadryl and Tylenol, so I get tired during the transfusion. After I got home I fell asleep for a couple of hours.
The blood work came back with a few improvements (don't go crazy were talking baby steps) but the Platelet number was still low. (Platelets are not expected to improve for a few weeks)
Tammy was great! Always by my side making sure I have food, juice, and always taking charge with the nurse's to make sure we know what is going on and why. I really don’t worry about much at home knowing she has it covered. I realize the strain she must have on her and all I can say is God has given her the strength to deal with the illness.
Tammy is my Guardian Angel!
Tammy is going to fly back to Florida on Thursday and bring the kids back Friday.
I have Thursday to rest and back to U of M on Friday!
Until we meet Again!
If you would like to respond click the "Pencil" icon link below:
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Tammy and I are going to U of M bright and early on Monday morning, 7:30 am, to get Rituxan!
Rituxan the greatest Mono-clonal antibody this side of the Mississippi.
It is a good day when we can get excited about a drug that is designed to save your life!
I will let you know how it went!
Ok, I completed the first day of Rituxan only after 8 hours in the hospital.
It was not fun!
I thought I was going to make it with no problems but then it happened.
Tight Chest, Fever, Chills - I did not feel good.
They stopped giving me the drug so my body could adjust. After I was feeling better they started it back up and I completed getting the full dose.
We got home around 4:00 and I went to bed to wake up with a fever 102. I got Tylenol and felt much better.
Slept for 14 hours and I am at work on Tuesday!
Crazy isn't it!
My goal is to keep everything as normal as possible, so, I plan to work as much as possible.
Keep checking back for more stories!!!
Until we Meet Again,
As you can see we had a great summer visiting the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.
I suggest, if you haven't been there, you make it a point to visit.
Well, you all probably know that the Leukemia has come back. (Yes is does stink!) But, we must play the cards were dealt.
Ok to catch everyone up I want to share with you the past few months in a few short lines.
At a January visit with the hematologist, we found out significant changes in blood levels (low platelets and high white blood cells). We made a trip to Columbus to visit our CLL expert Dr. Byrd. As a result of more tests, we found that my bone marrow showed the presence of leukemia cells. It was time to come up with a treatment plan.
1) Raise the platelet's with a 3 times a week for 4 weeks treatment with Rituxan. http://www.rituxan.com/lymphoma/index.jsp
2) Evaluate how I am doing after the 1 month
3) Start Chemo for up to 6 months to get into a Complete Remission. (Does not mean cure.)
4) Get a Stem Cell transplant from a donor. If you want to know what it is http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/all_page.adp?item_id=5965. I would not get marrow but rather stem cells from blood. The procedure is actually pretty easy for the donor and receipent all we have to do is give and get blood. The transplant will most likely take place at OSU with a doctor that specializes in transplants with CLL patients. This would require a stay in Columbus for a minimum of 100 days.
The GOOD NEWS, if all goes according to plan I will be CURED of LEUKEMIA!
Really, Stem Cell Transplant can cure me of Leukemia which means the Leukemia is dead and gone and I can live a long fun filled life with my beautiful wife, Tammy, and great kids, Craig, Hannah, and Scott.
I plan to keep everyone posted by using this blog!
So, check back and leave messages or questions!
One last item to talk about before I post:
THIS IS ALL POSSIBLE BECAUSE GOD IS WALKING WITH ME EACH STEP OF THE WAY... PLEASE REMEMBER HOW GREAT HE REALLY IS!
Until we meet again! Gary