Thursday, May 21, 2009

General, the ranks are thinning ...

Sherrie had a blood test today, and within 30 minutes the oncologist's nurse called and informed her that her white count has fallen alarmingly low. We had to go this afternoon to their office to receive a shot of Neupogen. Neupogen is an amino acid which promotes the growth of white cells in the marrow-producing bones. There's an interesting website at which describes it nicely. It's definitely a high-tech drug; it's produced by recombinant DNA techniques in E. coli bacteria.

Sherrie has to have a shot of Neupogen each of the next five days. Since one of those days is a Sunday (and the office isn't open), she gets a larger size dose on Saturday. Her white count was down to 1.7 (in whatever units they measure white count). Normal is above 6.5 or so. Last week, just before the chemo 2 injection on Thursday, her white count was 4.5. They want to get her white count up to 10.0 by the beginning of the next chemo cycle on Thursday of next week.

Apparently this isn't a rare thing for chemo patients. The oncologist told us that about 60 percent of patients have to have Neupogen (or equivalent) injections during chemotherapy.

The funny thing is Sherrie feels great, with no apparent ill effects. It's kind of scary that one's white count can be so low, and yet feel fine.

She may have sore bones (back, sternum, and hips) as a side effect of this drug.

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