Are you in remission yet? Yes! Yay!
How do they know? Leukemia treatment involves many tests: flow cytometry, c-KIT, and FISH testing of my bone marrow before, in between, and after my four rounds of chemo, daily blood tests while I’m getting in-patient chemo to make sure my blood counts are changing as expected and my organs are functioning properly, and once or twice weekly blood tests between rounds. Today, the sum of these tests show that due to induction chemo (the round I went through last month), I’m actually fairly healthy and officially in remission. There is no evidence of cancer cells or the 8;21 chromosomal abnormality!
Why are you going through three rounds of consolidation chemo over the next three months? Because tests can’t catch all cancer cells since there is so much blood in a human body, so the extra chemo serves to destroy any residual, undetectable cancer cells.
Is there a chance of a relapse? With my subtype of leukemia, the likelihood of relapse is very slim. For acute myeloid leukemia in general, most recurrences happen within a few months, and typically those are not 8;21 like me. So by this fall, we can be optimistic that the leukemia won’t come back. There is a tiny chance of relapse within one year. And an even tinier chance within two years. This means that after two years, we can breathe easy.
Non-sequitur: Here’s a hat I finished today. I almost feel like I have hair again!