Time for a blood test
I have Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer. From February to November 2013, I received Velcade chemo through weekly in-hospital injections as an outpatient. It was probably the most difficult year of my life and I’m happy it is over. Last month I came to the realization that I was in complete remission since my chemo ended. You can read further on that here.
Every five weeks, I have bloodwork drawn at the local lab. I’m continuing to document my cancer life through photography and social media and enjoy taking self-portraits. My next appointment with my Hematologist is in the Fall. It really helps lower my stress levels being able to go online soon after to see my results, rather than having to wait for my appointment. I use myehealth, a health service available to some residents in British Columbia.
I was a little bit uneasy after viewing my blood test results from last week. I didn’t get the “Test comment: normal pattern. Reviewed by Dr X” message this time around for the first time since I ended chemo. So I got all panicky wondering if my Multiple Myeloma had reappeared. But after reviewing my July blogpost from last month, where I discussed my meeting with my Hematologist, I realized that everything was still ok. My results overall are good and mostly trending in the right direction. So I see myself as still cancer-free and in complete remission. However, it should be noted, that I have a blood cancer, so my Multiple Myeloma can reappear at any time.
What I realize is that I need to spend alot more time in the Multiple Myeloma realm, interacting with Multiple Myeloma patients, talking to researchers, and reading relevant material online. This will help me cope with Multiple Myeloma and by extension what I learn can be shared with the general Multiple Myeloma community so that become educated as well.
Here are my lab results from November (post-chemo) to July (last week):
Serum Proteins (Electrophoresis & Immunoglobulins) (g/L)
||Beta Globulin 2
||1.8 – 4.8
||5.1 – 15.0
||6.7 – 15.2
||.70 – 4.00
||.40 – 2.30
|| Platelet Count
||4.0 – 11.0
||135 – 170
||150 – 400
||2.0 – 8.0
Overall, I’m happy. Based on my appointment last month with my Hematologist, I still believe my Protein Electrophoresis values are very good. These markers are how people are identified as having Multiple Myeloma. There are 6 measures broken into two components (Albumin, the major component and Globulins, the minor components). The Globulins consist of Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta 1, Beta 2, and Gamma. When visible in a pattern, they make up 5 bands (Albumin, Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta, Gamma). The Serum Protein Immunoglobulins consist of IgG, IgA, and IgM.
As shown in the figures below from the 2005 Understanding and Interpreting Serum Protein Electrophoresis article, a normal pattern means that Multiple Myeloma isn’t detected in the blood stream.
Figure 1: Typical normal pattern for serum protein electrophoresis
If they form an abnormal pattern, as shown by the large spike in the gamma region, then that is likely to indicate Multiple Myeloma.
Figure 2: Abnormal serum protein electrophoresis pattern in a patient with multiple myeloma.
If you look at the Serum Protein table above, you’ll note that my Beta 2 (4.9) are slightly higher than the normal range and my Gamma (6.9) are in the normal range. My test comment from the Dr that reviewed my results states:”There is a monoclonal band in the beta 2 region. This band was previously identified as IgG lambda.“. My Serum Protein Electrophoresis pattern for the 5 bands should look normal (as in Figure 1). My Serum Protein Immunoglobulins values are mostly trending upward (re: improving) into the normal range, since I finished chemo last November. For example: igG (Nov) 7.1, (Jun) 9.9, (Jul) 10.8; igM (Nov) .10, (Jun) .30, (Jul) .25; igA (Nov) .14, (Jun) .33, (Jul) .34. The upward trend means that normal protein is being produced, when Multiple Myeloma is active in the blood stream, these values are suppressed. Although, there was a slight drop of my igM, I don’t see it being a concern.
My Neutrophils, Hemoglobin, and White Blood Cells have taken a slight tip, but I don’t have a cold or infection and I’m feeling great, so I’m not worried. I’m sure everything will trend in the right direction again next blood test.
If anyone feels I’ve misinterpreted my results, please let me know.
I will continue to use my photography through self-portraits and personal projects that enhance my creativity for my health and happiness. Photography is a part of me and I enjoy using it to document the lives of others.
Life goal = Remain cancer-free.