On May 9th, 2012, Sal was diagnosed with Acute Monocytic Leukemia and about a month later we were told that he was not in remission and he would have less than a 30% chance of going into remission after his second round of induction chemo. Luckily Sal is a fighter and he has been in remission since July 2012. He will be returning to work on Monday, May 13th. He is working out everyday and trying to loose weight. He feels like his old self besides being fat…..which is driving him crazy and me, because that is all he talks about!
The past year has been a roller coaster and we have been blessed with some amazing friends. We have enjoyed weekends in Big Bear and a few days in Yosemite and will cherish every memory that we have made. Recently, a friend gave us a vacation to anywhere we wanted. Since time was limited since Sal was going back to work and the kids were in school, we decided on Hawaii.
We enjoyed a beautiful family vacation in Kauai last weekend. We stayed four nights at the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort. The resort was absolutely beautiful. The kids had so much fun playing in the pool and just relaxing. The staff was absolutely incredible. The first day we arrived they gave us a bag full of goodies and the last night we were there they dropped off another bag of goodies. We enjoyed a tour of the Waimea Canyon Tour, which included a stop at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. We spent a day in North Shore, Kauai, with our friends Shawn and Tammy Owens, exploring caves, Queen’s bath, and numerous beautiful beaches. We ended the day going on a zodiac down the Hanalei River and then out to the ocean to watch sea turtles swimming in the Hanalei Bay. Our friends Shawn and Tammy Owens were wonderful tour guides! The next day we took a drive up the coast again to explore more beaches and visit the Kilauea Light house. The views were breath taking. We ended the trip with a Smith’s Family Garden Luau. The food was so good and it was so neat to see a family owned business. The owners were so nice. Jacob fell asleep during the show, but it was a long day and the three hour time difference was hard to get use to. It was a wonderful experience and a nice way to get away from reality right now. We have already decided that we will definitely go back next year, hopefully we can stay even longer!
Back to reality, we are still looking for a bone marrow donor! We were told a few weeks ago that the doctor has checked out three units of cord blood for Sal. We will be meeting with the doctor on Tuesday to see what options Sal has. The cord blood transplant was an option that the doctor really didn’t want to do unless they had to. This is a very difficult decision to make. Sal feels so much better and our lives are going back to normal, but the doctors want him to do the transplant before the leukemia returns. Granted they don’t know when it will return but they know from other patients that it usually returns 3-6 months after the last treatment which would be around June. Does this mean that it will return this soon? No, no one knows they just know that cases like Sal, the leukemia does return and once it returns they know that the chemo will only prolong his life for a short time. This is why the doctors want to do the transplant before it returns because once it returns he will not qualify for a transplant.
With any transplant there are risks. A patient has to worry about host vs graft disease which can be fatal in up to 40% of patients, pain, organ failure, and with cord blood there is a higher chance of the body destroying the newly transplanted marrow, which is called graft rejection. Even after the transplant there is still only 42.5% survival rate 3 years after the transplant according to the HRSA Blood Cell Transplant website. If we wait and do the transplant when he isn’t in remission, which the doctors would probably not do, the survival rate for 3 years after the transplant is 19.3%. Sal is a fighter but the odds need to be more in his favor. This is why the transplant needs to be done while he is in remission.
Thank you for everyone’s continued support and we will keep you updated on what the doctor says on Tuesday.