mouseSome potentially good news is coming through the media (in this case CBS news) about a new cancer treatment using genetically modified T-cells. According to the report researchers are already testing it on terminally ill leukemia patients.

There are apparently some difficult side effects but the article didn’t elaborate. Still, researchers say they are meeting with some success. It is good to know they are getting closer to new treatments for us.

As always, I am not recommending this treatment for you. I’m not qualified to do so. Besides, I don’t think it has been approved yet by the FDA. But you might want to discuss it with your doctor to see what she thinks about this new research.

Oh, I hope you aren’t squeamish though . . . they remove T-cells from your body and modify them with molecules from genetically engineered mice then inject them back into you. So, don’t blame me if you develop an inexplicable attraction to cheese or an innate fear of cats.

[photo courtesy of Warren Photographic]

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If you’re undergoing Chemo you are probably facing some “fun” side effects. Nausea being right up at the top of list.

There is some excellent advice and suggested medications for dealing with and treating Nausea and Vomiting on the NavigatingCancer website.

NavigatingCancer is an excellent resource for all things cancer, not just leukemia. If you register you can also have access to discussion groups where members share their experiences. I am a member and find it very worthwhile.

As with all sources, you should talk to your doctor before proceeding with any advice. But give the website a look. It’s kind of a home for those of us fighting Leuk. I’m guessing he doesn’t want you to read it. But just ignore him and continue to build your education on how to beat him.

Hang in there guys and gals. You can make it.

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Columbia Tower in SeattleWell, this is it… The “Big Climb” I talked about in my last post is happening this Sunday (March 22). My son and I are trudging up the Columbia Tower in Seattle – 778 vertical feet! That’s it in the photo. It’s the tallest building in Seattle.

Actually, we’re not the only ones. We and 6,000 others are making the climb to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the research for curing blood cancers.

All proceeds benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Please support the cause by going to and clicking donate. Type in my name (Jim Smith) and make your donation. Thanks for supporting me in the fight against blood cancers!

Btw, although the climb is this Sunday (March 22), they are receiving funds until April 1.

Thanks for supporting the fight against blood cancers!

If you want to see a video about The Big Climb, click here.


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Hi all.

On March 22nd I’ll be climbing the tallest building in Seattle with my son. We’ll be trudging up 1311 steps, 778 vertical feet, to the top of the Columbia tower.

Why in world would a 63 year old man gasp his way to the top of such a tall building? We’re raising funds for leukemia. All proceeds benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Please support me by going to and clicking donate. Type in my name and then donate to my cause.

Thanks for supporting me in the fight against blood cancers!

For more info and a video go here.

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I just received some good news regarding recent tests.

Back on my post of February 7th, 2014, I talked about upcoming blood tests. The results are in now and the news is good.

If you want the short “Readers Digest” version, things have stabilized so I won’t need chemo for possibly another 4 years or longer. The doctor couldn’t guarantee this, things could change, but the chance looks good.

Now, for anyone interested in the long “Mitchener Novel” approach, I’ll go through each test one by one.

The first blessing was the doctor decided to do this blood test instead of a bone marrow biopsy – that saved me a lot of pain… Yay!

Metabolic panel: this was checked on Jan 14th 2014 (see my Score Card page). There was a slight dip downward in my white blood cell count and also a drop in my lymphocyte count, while my red blood cells and platelets remained within the normal range.

A quick note on lymphocytes: Lymphocytes in healthy people are there to help fight infection but in CLL patients abnormally high numbers of ineffective lymphocytes are found in the blood and/or bone marrow. A high lymphocyte count is a good indicator that Leuk is around. It is even a better indicator than just a white blood cell count. This is because lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell and so a high lymphocyte number gives a percentage relationship between them and the total number of white cells.

My doctor used a great metaphor to explain this: All burglars are human, but not all humans are burglars. So… cancerous lymphocytes (bad guys) are white cells, but not all white cells are bad guys.

Beta2 micro globulin (B2M): this was a test to check for any tumor markers. The result was negative (that’s a good thing).

Immunoglobulin (IgG): this checks for autoimmune disease. Also negative.

There was another test I didn’t mention in my February 7th post: Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test. Yes, FISH test… but they were not looking for trout.  As best I understand it, this is a chromosome/DNA test. Anyway, to save you a lot of incomprehensible jargon, my prognosis was favorable.

Bottom line: I will probably be avoiding chemo treatments for several years.

But the best news is, new research and treatments are rapidly developing. If I can stay stable for 4 years or so there may well be treatments better than chemo. Researchers my have found better ways to identify what treatments are best for specific patients. In other words, whereas chemotherapy is a “shotgun” approach to killing cancer cells, new treatments could identify exactly how to target the cell makeup of each patient’s individual blood structure.

At least that’s how this layman understands it all.

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