Thursday, July 21, 2011

July 21: A Bit More on My Leukemia

If you're not interested in medical details, the post I just put up about people will be much more interesting.

This one's short, though!

I asked Dr. Strickland—the tall, handsome doctor who's not to be confused with Dr. Lemmer, his equally tall but slightly less handsome colleague—to explain enough about what's going wrong in my system for me to use it as an analogy for things I want to write about.

He was a little confused by that, but with very little guidance he got directly to what I was looking for.

The reason my leukemia is unusual is because my cells are going bad so early in the process that they can't tell what they are yet. Normally, you find bad lymphocytes (most common) or some other bad white blood cell. What's happened is that before the lymphocyte is fully developed, it becomes abnormal, doesn't finish developing, and loses its programming to die. Your cells are constantly being replaced, so you want the old ones to die. Cancer is what happens to you when cells decide they need to be immortal and proliferate.

Hmm, that's an analogy in itself.

Anyway, my cells are going bad so early that they're barely out of the stem cell stage. So they see the abnormal cells, but they can't tell what they were supposed to become. That is what makes classification so difficult, and that is what has made treatment difficult. What cells do they go after?

After Dr. Strickland left, I told Hannah, "Finding an analogy for that one is difficult."

It wasn't for her. She gave me one immediately, which opened up my mind to numerous avenues.


Sorry, wait for the book. It's going to be called The Healthy Body. I've already started on Thrilled to Death.