The results of Henry’s MRD test came through last Wednesday. We had hoped there would be so little sign of the disease that Henry could stay on his lighter chemotherapy regime. You can always tell when a medical team is planning to deliver bad news. They don’t smile. They avoid stopping to chat. Then they take you off to an office to tell you in private and in a controlled environment. I’m not complaining. It helps to soften the news when you know it’s coming. And I have no idea how I would do it differently.
So Henry is MRD Risk which means they haven’t killed off as many of the leukaemia cells as they’d have liked. The prognosis is still extremely good. What’s not heartening is the level of chemotherapy Henry will have to go through. The spring and summer will now be taken up with a lot of different medicine and tests. He’s immediately been treated with a rather harsh drug cyclophosphamide which took several hours to deliver as they need to give loads of fluid after the medicine, and cytarabine (a cunning medicine that acts like a Trojan Horse in the cancer’s DNA. Not unlike a marauding Greek escaping the wooden horse, it’s pretty destructive… you can read about its use and side effects here. Wikipedia has a description of the science which is a bit more interesting.) He also continues on his daily dose of Mercaptopurine. Hen manages five pills of this which melt on his tongue.
As well as this new cocktail, H will have more of the treatment he’s already had. It’s a heavy mix for a small bloke and we’re really disappointed he has to go through it. Having said that his spirits are extremely high and he has managed so far to tolerate the chemotherapy well. He is a very strong lad and impressive in the way he’s taking this on. And although Hen has now lost most of his hair and the rest will go soon, he is most bothered about not being able to go to school. (I’ll post about this separately.)
Henry’s consultant, Nick Goulden, and his colleagues have just published the findings of the previous trial in The Lancet Oncology which you can view here. Hen is taking part in the latest research UKALL 2011.