Part 3: The continuing saga of Sally Cooper

It has now been three weeks since Sally was diagnosed with a subset of Pre-Leukemia cancer at Hermann Memorial Hospital.

Sally’s team of doctors worked around the clock to figure out what was wrong with her. After 1,400 tests on Sally’s blood, doctors decided it was time for a more invasive test: a bone biopsy.

This is a relatively simple procedure where a drill is used to extract a small piece of bone tissue. With the results from the bone biopsy, doctors finally diagnosed Sally with Pre-Leukemia cancer also known as Myelodysplasia Syndrome (MDS).

Myelodysplastic Syndrome is no longer known as Pre-Leukemia because it doesn’t always result in Leukemia. The particular subset of MDS that Sally has is Refractory anemia with excess of blasts (RAEB).

There are two ways to treat MDS before it turns into full Leukemia: a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy.

M.D. Anderson’s cancer doctors have presented Sally with three options for treatment at this time: 1. Do nothing and probably be dead within five years; 2. Take a low dose of chemotherapy, which has a five percent chance of killing her; or 3. Take a high dose of chemotherapy, which has a 10 percent chance of killing her, but also has a better chance at curing her MDS.

The RAEB subset of MDS is a pretty nasty nemesis to have, but Sally told me last night she is very anxious to begin chemotherapy.

Sally was admitted to M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston yesterday afternoon, and began a high dosage chemotherapy treatment last night.

She sent me a message Friday morning to let me know that she had survived the first dose of chemotherapy.

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