George’s Journal

I greatly appreciate your checking in on me. Before you leave, please be sure to click on the link (scroll down) for a 30% discount at the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.  The coupon can be used multiple times, and the Leukemia & Lymphona Society (LLS) receives 5% of each transaction using the coupon.  This “Give & Get” promotion by Gap Inc. is good for purchases, Thursday, Nov. 11th (tomorrow) thru Sunday, Nov. 14th.  It’s as good a time as any to start your holiday shopping.

Sunday, Jacquelyne, Eva and I participated in the annual fund raiser for our local school district called the Dinosaur Dash. With the exception of last year, when I was in the hospital, I typically run either the 10K or 5K, depending on my level of fitness. This year, Jacquelyne ran the 5K (3.1 miles) in about 22 minutes, that’s an excellent time for a 12-year old. I’m very proud of her.  Eva and I took a leisurely 2K walk along with a couple thousand other school kids, Moms, Dads, and citizens of Irvine and Tustin.  It felt good to get out and walk a distance. Between walking from where we parked, to visiting the various sponsor booths, and the 2K event itself, I walked about 3 miles, with a couple short jogs.   My right leg and foot are still plagued by neuopathy, i.e., swollen, numbness, lack of flexibility in foot and ankle.  It’s a small price to pay for being cancer free!

MEDICAL TEAM’S CONSENSUS:  RITUXAN MAINTENANCE IN NOVEMBER

A few weeks ago, my primary physician, Dr. Robert Chen, recommended that I undergo 4 weekly infusions of a non-hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) fighting drug called “Rituxan.” This month, I’m following a “Rituxan Maintenance” protocol at City of Hope, the infusions last about 3.5 hours per session. Rituxan (formally known as “Rituximab”), is used alone or with other medications to treat certain types of NHL. I’ve had Rituxan many times before as part of a chemo regime (infusion of Rituxan prior to receiving the chemo infusion). Rituxan treats NHL by causing the death of blood cells that have multiplied abnormally. I sought the advice of my other physicians, Dr. Nelson (UC-Irvine Medical Center) and Dr Cecena (Oasis of Hope Hospital, Tiajuana). They agreed with Dr. Chen that Rituxan Maintenance could possibly help me increase the likelihood of remaining cancer free by 10-15%.

FYI….SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

In previous posts, I’ve referred to my “Allogeneic Bone Marrow” transplant, but I actually received a “Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell” Transplant. Apparently, it’s just easier for everyone (physicians and nurses) to call the procedure, “Bone Marrow Transplant.”  As you know, my donor was an unrelated 40-year old man from Europe. The donor’s tissue type matched mine. I was extremely fortunate City of Hope found a donor.  Matching is based on the compatibility of the HLA gene (Human Leukocte Antigen system) between potential donor and the recipient.  A compatible donor is found by doing additional HLA-testing from the blood of potential donors.  Since I’m not a physician, I’ll leave the scientific explanation at that.  Race and ethnicity are key factors in finding a compatible unrelated donor match, and play a major role in donor recruitment drives. Members of the same ethnic group are more likely to have matching genes, including the genes for HLA.

NATIONAL MARROW DONOR PROGRAM (NMDP)

The National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) coordinates the collection of hematopoietic (“blood-forming”) cells that are used to perform what used to be called bone marrow transplants, but are more properly called hematopoietic cell transplants (HCT). Patients needing a HCT but who lack a suitably matched donor in their family can search the Be The Match Registry (see below for details) for a matched unrelated donor or cord blood unit.

Hematopoietic cells are used to transplant patients with life-threatening disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, as well as certain immune system and metabolic disorders. Hematopoietic cells can come from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, or the circulating blood (peripheral blood stem cells or PBSCs). Hematopoietic cells are a type of adult (i.e., non-embryonic) stem cells that can multiply and differentiate into the 3 types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

NMDP is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 that operates the Be The Match RegistrySM of volunteer hematopoietic cell donors and umbilical cord blood units in the United States. The Be The Match Registry is the world’s largest hematopoietic cell registry, listing more than 8 million individuals and more than 160,000 cord blood units. As of January 2010, the NMDP had facilitated more than 38,000 transplants worldwide.

BE THE MATCH…SAVE A LIFE!

I encourage each of you to donate your blood/bone marrow to help save the life of a cancer patient.  Because a caring young man in Europe decided to volunteer his healthy “peripheral blood stem cells,” I am alive today! Please check out www.marrow.org/ and click on “Be The Match Registry” or call 800.627.7692.  When you join the Be The Match Registry, you become part of every patient’s search for a stem cell/bone marrow donor.  YOU could be the one to save a life! It’s easy to join the Be The Match Registry:

  • Confirm you meet the basic registry guidelines (see below).
  • Complete the online form and order your registration kit.
  • Follow the instructions in your kit to collect a swab of cheek cells and return the kit.

To qualify as a donor, you must be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in good overall health. Secondly, you must be willing to donate to any patient in need and understand the donation process.  Thirdly, you must live in the US or Puerto Rico. Complete the online registration and you’ll be sent a donor kit with complete next step details.

A LARGE DONOR POOL IS ESSENTIAL

The Be The Match Registry is one of many registries of unrelated donors in the world. Most large, developed nations have such registries. Large registries of unrelated donors are needed because only 30% of patients with diseases treatable with hematopoietic cell transplantation can find a suitably HLA matched donor among their family members. I have 4 siblings, and as much as they wanted to “be the match” for me, their HLA was not compatible with mine. The remaining 70% of patients require an unrelated donor as a transplant source. Because of the odds that 2 random individuals are HLA-matched exceeds 1 in 20,000, a registry’s success depends on a large number of volunteer donors.  essential

LEUKEMIA & LYMPHOMA SOCIETY (LLS)

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services.  LLS’s mission:  cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.  Since the first funding in 1954, LLS has awarded more than $680 million in research funding. To learn more about LLS, go to www.lls.org or call 800.955.4572.  A great way for you to kick off your holiday shopping is with the (below) 30% off discount coupon good at all Gap Inc. stores.

START YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING & HELP PEOPLE BATTLING CANCER

LLS’s cancer research funding, patient education and support services have benefited from nearly $2.8 million from previous Give & Get campaigns.  To repeat, the holiday campaign runs from Thursday, Nov. 11th (tomorrow) thru Sunday, Nov. 14th.  Use the downloadable LLS coupon, as many times as you like during that time, to receive a 30% discount off your purchase(s) at the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, and 5% of your total receipt will be donated to LLS.  Here’s the link to the 30% discount coupon: www.gapinc.com/giveandget/lls/. Share it with your friends!

Happy Birthday to my sister Janet Ghindia (4th), and Kelly Blett (10th).  You’re the best!

We’ve had an Indian summer here in Orange County, with temperatures in the 80s, 90s  and even reaching 100 a few days in October!  Welcome to the cooler mornings (50-55-60 degrees) of November.  I have so much to be thankful for, most especially your care, concern and prayers.  Cheryl and I cherish your friendship, love and generous spirit.

Thank you.

God bless you and yours,

George

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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