Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Molecular MD

Last week I took my first blood test at Dr. Druker's lab in Oregon. The company is called Molecular MD and has extremely accurate PCR tests for CML. Dr. Druker and Carolyn Blasdel (his nurse practitioner) were concerned because the general rule of thumb with blood tests and CML is to have it checked every 3 months. My next local appointment was not until September which was closer to 5 months.

I was not sure how this process was going to work, but it turned out to be very easy. Carolyn sent me a slip for a blood test. She and I also spoke with Molecular MD to have a test kit shipped to me. They sent me a box with a test tube, some paperwork, and a prepaid Fedex slip. All I needed to do was to find a lab that would draw the blood and call Fedex to pick it up. Molecular MD had some relationships with labs around the country and the one closest to me was Quest. It was close to my office, so I stopped by during a cancellation one day. The phlebotomist drew my blood, took care of the paperwork, and shipped it overnight to Oregon. It was so easy. The only difference was that I had to pay out of pocket for the actual blood draw.

Today I received an email from Carolyn:

"Good news, your PCR is very, very low at 0.002%. Report attached. This is an excellent response, well below the level of major molecular response (0.1%) and puts you in the group least likely to relapse."

This was my lowest reading by far. It was great to hear before I head off to Niagara Falls tomorrow.

I think this type of blood test option is great for people who have CML. Any doctor can order this type of bloodwork, so it is certainly worth asking about.

In the meantime, Team Gershon continues to raise money for the Light the Night Walk. We have raised $875 and are just getting started. Please let me know if you are interested in joining the team. It is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Light the Night 2008

It is that time of year again. Light the Night is quickly approaching. For those of you who don't know about it, Light the Night is a wonderful fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). It takes place every fall in cities across the country. The local event is about a 3 mile walk down Blackstone Boulevard in Providence, RI. Last year, about 1000 people marched down this street holding red and white lit balloons. The red balloons signified blood cancers and the white designated survivors of blood cancers. For those who have not experienced it yet, it is a magical night and a lot of fun as well.

For the past 2 years, I have put together a team to raise money and get people to participate in this charity. Team Gershon has been the top fundraising team in the state for the past 2 years. I was so proud and honored to be able to work on this campaign. Raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is near and dear to my heart. The LLS funds researchers who treat and try to find cures for blood cancers. One of my doctors, Dr. Brian Druker, at the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, developed Gleevec with funding coming from the LLS. Without these scientific advances, I would not be in remission now.

I learned a lot more about the LLS and their mission this year. I was invited to attend their annual Mission Days in Washington, DC, this past fall. I made several blog posts about it which you can read below. It was an inspiring trip and I learned that the society is committed not only to finding cures for blood cancers, but also in providing excellent outreach and services to patients and families coping with a blood cancer diagnosis. As such, I want to do my part to help out the society as much as possible.

There are a couple of ways to get involved with this event. First, please join my team. You can click on this link to go to my Light the Night Page. You can then click on Register to Walk. This would mean walking in the event and hopefully trying to raise some money for the LLS. Raising money is fairly easily with an automated system over the internet. All you have to do is enter in email addresses and a letter is sent to those people you might solicit for donations. Second, you could donate directly. Following the link to my page or anyone on my team, you can make a contribution online or you can send a check to me in the mail.

The other nice thing going on this summer is that there is a bonus if you raise money through the LLS website. You can get gas cards for certain amounts. Here is the link. With the price of gas now this is really nice.

The Light the Night Walk is scheduled for Saturday night, September 27, 2008 in Providence. If you cannot make this event, there are local ones all over the country, some on different dates. You can go the the Light the Night Website for more information.

If you need help with fundraising, I am happy to assist you as well.