Well, everyone, fantastic news! Jason's latest bone marrow biopsy showed NO signs of leukemia! The chemotherapy seems to have done what it was supposed to… wiping out both the good cells (red and white blood cells and platelets) and the bad (leukemia-infected.) His body needs to now start producing new bone marrow - but it also needs to be monitored to make sure it's producing healthy bone marrow. This is what they call the Neutropenic count - basically, the measure of the quality of his blood cells. He'll have to remain in the hospital until this count gets to, and maintains, an acceptable level. We expect this to be about 2 - 3 weeks.
Although this is fabulous news, we remain cautiously optimistic in preparation for the next big obstacle - his next bone marrow biopsy in another 2 weeks. Right now, as his body is not yet manufacturing its own bone marrow, the fact that no leukemia is present is right where we want to be. For the next test, though, his body will have already begun this regeneration. What it produces is extremely important. If again there are no leukemic cells present, Jason will be declared "in remission." If there are, well… we just haven't gotten to that bridge yet…
I'm trying to keep up with all of you, but I'll probably never get around to thanking everyone who has been so helpful during the past few weeks. Keep up all that mail - it's really keeping him in a great frame of mind!
I'll most likely be sending another email when it's closer for him to be heading home. Cross your fingers that it's sooner - and not later! Oh - and please forward this to anyone who doesn't have an email address, or I may inadvertently have left off this list! Thanks!!
During the time he's in the hospital, as a reminder, here are some things from previous emails:
Give us a call. Hospital Room: 412-623-5437 (Will occasionally be turned off to let him sleep.)
Cell Phone: 412-638-2655
As for visiting, the doctors have said that he'll need to be extremely careful of catching an infection over the next few weeks. So they're going to limit visiting to short periods over the course of the day, as well as the number of people in the room at a time. Please call first to discuss coming over.
Send frequent cards or letters. Jason Tsaggaris, Room # 705 - 7 Main, UPMC Shadyside, 5230 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Give blood, plasma or platelets. Jason's blood type is B+. He has an account set up with the Central Blood Bank of Pittsburgh. Mention his name, or Account #: Z 0020518, for a directed donation.
Contribute to Leukemia Walk. Kim and Mero Capo (and their kids) are walking in a leukemia & lymphoma walk on October 2nd. They will have a banner with Jason's name on it - in honor of him. If anyone is interested in making a contribution, please send to: Kim Capo, 290 Celestial Drive, Freedom, PA 15042. And make the check out to: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For anyone contributing, they'll need the money ASAP - (by next week.)
He'd love non-hospital food. Homemade or otherwise. No raw fruit or vegetables, nuts or other non-cooked or pasteurized foods allowed. Jason is now on a strict diet and environmental control - to limit infections. He's not in isolation or anything, but we need to make sure that certain precautions are taken. This means no fresh flowers or plants in his room. Live plants or fresh food (fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.) can have pesticides or carry germs. We appreciate the thoughts put into sending them, but they're just going back to my house or remaining at the nurse's station. A card or letter would be terrific at this point; we're trying to cover all of the walls in his room with them.
Also… unfortunately, no children. They are great germ carriers, and that's the last thing we need in his room right now.
Thanks for your cooperation and help!!