After several days of bad news, our family received some good news today from the Doctor. They have further narrowed in on the type of leukemia that he has and believe that he has what is called Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL).
As the doctor put it, if you have to get leukemia . . . this is the one you want. APL is a form that responds very well to treatment. APL has a complete remission (CR)* of 90% much higher than the other types of leukemia.
APL is unique among the leukemias distinguished by its sensitivity to all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), a derivative of vitamin A. Basically, the ATRA is going to make these cells that are stuck in between cancer cells and white blood cells progress. He is going to start a regiment of the ATRA today and take it over the weekend.
Depending on how that goes he will start chemotherapy on Monday or Tuesday next week. He will take chemo for a week+ and it will take another week for the full effect to take place. He will stay at least two more weeks in the hospital after that to give him time to rebuild his bone marrow (white counts), fight infections (which are likely to occur), and check progress.
The doctors spent nearly 30 minutes with the family this morning, Chrys and Shannon both conference called in since they are out of town, and he went over all the options, the plan, etc. There are going to be several rounds of this over the next 6+months and the whole process is well over 2 years (the last 1.5 years being continued maintenance regiment and mostly oral treatments).
Truly, we praise God for this diagnosis today. It gives us all great hope to know that the battle that is about to be waged inside my Dad's body will be worth it.
*The term complete remission (CR) is reserved for patients who have recovery of normal peripheral blood counts; fewer than 5 percent blast cells can be present in the bone marrow, and none can have a leukemic phenotype.