The Journey Ahead
My story is in the early stages and not too sure which path I will be facing. It all began 19 months ago when I went for my annual checkup. Routine blood work was ordered a week in advance of my appointment. I was shocked to get a call from my doctor the very same afternoon asking if I was okay and telling me to go the next morning to a different lab to repeat the tests. I did and got another call saying my numbers were lower. One thing led to another, and another, and another.... and to briefly summarize, I was diagnosed with an unexplained pancytopenia. I am tested every 3 months and my numbers fluctuate a bit.... but they remain below 'normal'.
WBC 2.1-4.5 (keeping in mind the high number was when I was sick)
Neutrophils (absolute) .76-2.64
Lymphocytes (absolute) .906-1.6
With those numbers out of whack, several numbers remain primarily normal
Reticulocyte (absolute) 38.7-45
I have been tested for many of the obvious things to rule out other conditions including ANA, Hepatitis, IgA, IgG, IgM, iron, copper, vit d, serum folate, calcium, TSH.....
My first BMB 3/2015) revealed "variably cellular marrow with trilineage hematopoiesis and megaloblastic erythroid maturation. No infiltrates, fibrosis or lymphoid aggregates seen"
"Flow cytometric prolife of the marrow is within expected parameters and without increase of blasts or evidence of B-lymphoid or plasma cell clonality... however the peripheral blood demonstrates a small PNH clone" (0.13% erythrocytes and 0.13% granulocytes)
Fewer than 1% blasts, 46% myeloid elements, 24% erythroid elements, iron stores markedly decreased to absent, ring sideroblasts not identified
Note, "there (were) no overtly dysplastic morphological features"
No official diagnosis has been made and I have been in the watch and wait mode since. Hematologist put me on iron, vit d, vit b12 and told me no alcohol. This has been hard as I really loved my wine.... and everyone around a me continues to drink it which makes me miss it more.
I recently had a second BMB (14 months after the first) and the results read, "hypocellular marrow with trilineage hematopoiesis.... focal non-specific lymphoid aggregate". The comment goes on to read, "compared to the previous studies which showed areas of hypocellularity but overall appropriate cellular its for age of patient, the current studies shows overall reduced cellularity (10-40%)
A CBC morphology test showed 1+ tear-drop cells and 1+ ovalocytes. Cytogenetic testing results were "normal female karyotype"
I am scheduled to be seen at Dana Farber in a few weeks and am quite nervous. I try to stay positive.... and this forum has helped me tremendously as I felt very 'alone' until I found you all. I try to learn from your experiences.... and am trying to appreciate each day.
A question..... how do you answer the question, "How are you?"
I feel like I need to lie and say that I am fine.... just to make everyone else feel comfortable. I honestly don't know how I am. I feel 'off' but I don't feel like I can really explain to people why .... even the doctors don't know what is wrong. I don't like feeling like a hypochondriac and I try to keep up with everything I used to do, but it is hard (some days harder than others). My spouse is not as supportive as I need him to be (drove me home from my BMB and dropped me off to spend the next two days on the golf course). He tells family and friends that I am fine because that is what he wants to believe.... and goes on as if nothing is wrong. Is this something I can face on my own?
Thank you for reading my story..... and I hope to find someone here who understands ....
I have read your thread and have to let you know my situation. My numbers were almost identical to yours 2 years ago. I am also 52, female. I went into panic mode. First went to Mayo Clinic. He said probable MDS but not 100% also said maybe this would just go away someday. I got nervous and went for a second opinion at MDAnderson. The Dr. there is very optimistic and said never to worry about this again. The statistics of early death include all other causes of death. So do not look at those. Also he asked me to watch and wait and see him once a year. I have taken drastic measures with diet and supplements since that visit. I also cut out all alcohol and all over the counter pain relievers. My CBC this last check is the best it has ever been. After forwarding the results to MDAnderson- he said I did not need to see him this year! I think a positive non fearful attitude is the healthiest thing you can do for your body. I still think about the possibilities but quickly chase the thoughts away. My husband thinks everything is just fine- same as your husband! But I agree with him. Everything is just fine now and no one knows what the future holds so do not ever worry about what might happen. Because chances are good that it might not happen as well! I stay active, eat well, swim everyday and pray a lot! You will have great Drs. at Dana Farber and they will get you through this!
Thank you, jmajjb
Thank you so much for your reply..... your story gives me hope. I do, and will continue to, stay positive. My best to you and your continued health :)
The important thing to remember is not to let positive thoughts drown out reality. There are many forms of MDS and none should be dismissed lightly. In my case it was extremely important to act quickly. I was golfing (walking the 18 holes) right up until I had the stem cell transplant. I was feeling great. You do what you can control, but there are other things you just have no control. Yes, it is important to have as much close support as available.
Did any genetic mutations show up in the bone marrow biopsy?
Thank you, bailie
Thanks for your reply.
I agree. The most interesting part of all this is that I was in the best health of my life when the numbers suddenly went down. I was going to the gym frequently, eating healthy, lost 40 lbs, ran in a 5k obstacle race, was playing fairly decent golf (driving the ball a ton and walking 18)....
I am taking the doctors orders seriously and continuing to live my life. But I am concerned and I want to do everything I can to live a long and healthy life. It is scary that I did everything the doctor asked me to do and my marrow got worse. I expected it to be the same, if not better.
Regarding genetic mutations.... I could not find anything in the reports that said otherwise so I am guessing there are none.
may be Cgvhd, irritation in eyes sore throat..low platelet counts 29,000 +311 Day
My mothers mds relapsed and as dr. Suggested she had alloHsct 6/6 Match..on aug-2015
after transplant she recovered platelet but her hb was always around 6-7,,,now she has irritation in her eyes and sore throat + Thrombocytopenia (platelet count=29,000)
her biopsy report shows insufficient stem cells...shes on cyclosporin and many more drugs.
dr.'s have no idea whats the reason behind it but as i was going through the so many articles i found one which say irritation in eyes is related to cgvhd and thrombocytopenia is may be because of secondary failure of platelet recovery.
please anyone here who had similar problem
is there any treatment available for such problem. I want to know more about this SFPR thing and followed cosequences
I tend to agree with jamjjb and wouldn't panic yet.
Did you have a bad virus/infection a few months ago? Were you exposed to any chemicals or were you taking questionable supplements?
A small PNH clone is a sign that you have/had an immune attack going on. Sometimes these can be seen in healthy people, so is is not always an ominous sign. If this does turn out to be serious, having a small PNH clone is a positive sign that you will respond to immune suppression.
The elevated MCV indicates that your marrow is struggling. It is possible that your body can recover on its own, but it will take time (months).
I would be religious about the Vitamin D, iron, and B12 that your doctor is prescribing. These may be able to turn things around. Again it will take months (maybe 3-6) before you will be able to tell whether it is working. So you will learn patience :)
Also, don't drink any alcohol. Alcohol suppresses the marrow and stresses the liver. I would focus as much as possible on eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. Be kind to yourself. Try not to stress. Hopefully your body is strong enough to turn this around on its own. Then you can celebrate with a glass of wine, and it will be the best wine that you ever tasted!
Thank you, Hopeful
I have been religious about the B12, D, C, and iron since my March 2015 BMB and stopped all alcohol as well.... but my May 2016 BMB was worse. I think that is why I am more concerned.
That all said.... I will keep plugging along and hope for the best.
I really appreciate your reply and suggestions!
I had my appointment at Dana Farber a couple days ago.... was very impressed overall. My pathology was reviewed and good to see that the local path report and the DF review were very much the same. My doctor has provisionally labeled me as moderate aplastic anemia. He did order a rapid heme, CBC, LGL panel and recommended to have my telomeres checked.
Path report reads "the findings could be compatible with idiopathic or or primary aplastic anemia, if other causes of secondary acquired aplastic anemia are excluded. Given the reported macrocytic anemia and mild dysmegakaryopoiesis the differential diagnosis includes an evolving hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndrome"
Could be better, but could be a lot worse.
All in all it remains a wait and see.... bloodwork every 3 months. Checking in with my local hematologist later this week. Good to know I have good doctors keeping an eye on me.
Sounds like a story I've heard before! Keep on watchin' and waitin'... :)
I'm praying for you!
Thanks David :)
Sayin' prayers for you too
Waiting, watching, but living life in the meantime.... right?
You got that right... Life was given to be lived, so let's squeeze all we can out of it!
One day at a time, one moment at a time, one second at a time!
Hang in there, my friend! And keep us all posted!!!
Hi Katail S
I had pancytopenia for many years before MDS finally reared its ugly head, so I guess I just want to encourage you to hang in there. Like you I was monitored 3-monthly. Watch and wait is a bit scary at first but if you're able to live a pretty normal life you can get used to it! It sounds as though you know how to look after yourself with a healthy diet and exercise.
Just one suggestion - monitor your results yourself (I spreadsheet the pertinent ones) and always question any changes.
All the best ... I'll be watching for your posts!
Thank you Cheryl C
I do get copies of all lab work and started tracking my results on a spreadsheet.... it really does help to visualize what is going on. It is interesting to see that there were smaller abnormalities back in 2012 that may be related to my slow decline. I am trying to locate labs prior to 2012 to see how long my levels have been 'off'.
Yes, I do try to take good care of myself and live as fully as I can. Maybe I can't be doing boot camp workouts anymore (tho I will keep tryin :rolleyes:) but I am trying to stay as physically fit as possible. Any suggestions of diet or exercise that is blood-building friendly? I do take iron, B12, K, C and D3 religiously. Got lots to live for with my four kids and their bright futures :)
The only other thing I can think of is as soon as you feel a virus/infection starting, get right onto it. Echinacea, olive leaf extract and other natural immune boosters can be quite effective.
How Are You?
Just checking in on you... how is everything? Still watching and waiting?
Me? I am about the same... :-)
Watching and waiting is my middle name. Numbers are fairly steady and I am really pushing myself to stay healthy and follow doctor's advice. I am living a very healthy lifestyle and going to the gym regularly.... some days are much harder than I'd like, but I feel it helps me stay strong. Seeing my hematologist on Thursday and I expect it will be a non-event and will schedule the next blood-letting in three months.
How are you doing? I do keep you in my positive thoughts. Are your numbers steady?
Keep in touch :-)
I am doing fine... have gotten back into a "routine" of regular exercise -- I feel much better when I do this. Trying to push my personal limits a little, but nothing too crazy. I still tire out sooner than I ought, but I think my endurance is improving some overall -- I definitely feel more flexible.
Staying reasonably free of infections. Battled a cold a couple of weeks ago -- but it went away after a week or so. Overall, not getting any more infections than a "normal" person would this time of year.
Also no abnormal bleeding episodes... I have accidentally pricked my finger, etc. a time or two and it seems to clot up within a decent amount of time. Platelets holding at about the same levels -- low, but not dangerously low. Thankful for that!
So, overall, I'm not really doing better counts-wise, but not worse either! And I can live with that.
I just realized earlier that I hadn't heard from you in a good while, and I was wondering if all was well with you. Sounds like you are doing quiet well! I am praying for you and your family!
I appreciate the conversation. It just reminds me how differently these diseases are and the differences among us. I never did have the luxury of "waiting". My numbers were dropping at a geometric rate and we had to make important decisions very quickly.
Watching and waiting is good 90% of the time. Then of course if there's an unwell day, I guess we all wonder if the "sword of Damocles" is about to fall! That's where the word "watch" becomes extra important. My last BMB was nearly 3 years ago and it was horrible, with no sedation and 5 attempts to get through the hip bone, however I personally think it's time for another - just for reassurance if anything. I'm hoping my haematologist will agree.
David, I am glad to hear you are also 'hanging in there' and that you are staying strong and as healthy as you can. I have learned to listen to my body more at the gym.... I push myself, but I also don't push too hard. Life is a delicate balance...
Yes bailie, it does seem as if everyone has such a different journey. I feel very fortunate that my numbers are fairly steady, .... low, but not an immediate problem.... and I have great doctors keeping a close eye on me. I hope you are doing well.
Cheryl, I agree, watching and waiting is good, but it certainly does add a bit of anxiety to life. I find it very hard to go in for the bloodwork and feel very hopeful that the numbers may be better only to find they are slightly lower. It can be frustrating.... but I'll take it because I know they could be so much worse.
I hope you are doing well :-)
I couple of mentions of drinking on this thread interested me. I have pancytopenia which has been diagnosed as myelofibrosis. I usually have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and am so accustomed to this that it is difficult for me to quit. My hematologist did tell me to stop drinking but seemed to suggest that it was not all that important since I drink only a small amount. He was somewhat vague about it, so I'm going to bring it up again. Any comments?:confused:
Hi Warburg - there is plenty of evidence on-line that alcohol isn't good for bone marrow function or healthy blood production, and it's usually recommended that ideally those with these types of diseases should abstain totally, but I recommend you do your own research.
Just checking in with you... How are you doing?
I am about the same. Nothing new to report in the last year or so... except that I seem to be getting sick more often (got the flu twice this year!). I need to get back to doing some regular exercise.
Overall about the same. I was just wondering about you??? :)
Not sure who you're particularly talking to, David, but anyway I seem to be about the same. My platelets dropped back a bit below normal last time for the first time in quite a while, but it might just be a temporary aberration.
I'm still having Intragam. Have been doing it 6 weekly for the last 12 months to give my tired veins more of a break, but am going back to 5 weekly as I was starting to feel unwell a week or so before it was due.
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