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Dialed in GVHD (Day 230)

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:13pm

My Graft Verses Host Disease (GVHD) doctor told me last Friday that if she could dial all of her patient’s GVHD in to the just right amount; they would be set to right where I’m at now. That’s pretty cool!
GVHD symptoms range from none at all, to life threatening. GVHD is caused by my donor’s blood recognizing my body as foreign and attacking it like it would a germ.
The reason we hope for mild GVHD symptoms is because that indicates that there is a much better chance that the leukemia will not relapse. Hopefully, that means I also have Graft Verses Leukemia going on at the same time.
All it takes is just one leukemia cancer cell to survive through the chemotherapy and Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) engraftment to cause a relapse. From that single broken cell can grow a whole other batch of leukemia cells. The bad thing about that is that the new leukemia cells would be resistant to the next round of chemotherapy treatments and it would be harder to kill them.
My mild GVHD at this time means; funny looking nails, reoccurring stomach ache, red spots on my skin if I’m out in the sun to long, blisters in my mouth, thrush, dry eyes, bumpy skin, loose stools, achy joints and that sort of stuff.
She also said that we have to watch for the mild GVHD symptoms that indicate something worse may be occurring. For example; dry eyes could indicate GVHD of the tear glands and if the tear glands are damaged to the point where I can’t make tears anymore, that would be painful.
I get my eyes checked again in November.
The GVHD will eventually hit every organ in my body. It could cause me problems for two to three years or for the rest of my life. I’m just telling you what could happen.
I didn’t do as well on the Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) as I did three months ago. I still am in the normal range though. That’s good. I think that I was just tired and I was having trouble doing all those deep inhales and exhales during the test. Wow, I feel light headed after those PFTs.
The blood test results were good on Friday too. Three “L” and two “H” levels, but they were very close to being within the normal range.

If you have any specific questions about my AML, BMT, or treatments please do not hesitate to e-mail me at
I want to help if I can.
Peter J. Olson

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