March 8, 2012 – Yesterday Eric was at a routine doctor appointment and mentioned the severe headaches he’s been having. They proceeded to perform an MRI of his head to check things out, and it revealed a mass of cells that today were confirmed to be Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. This comes after the news we received on February 22nd from a biopsy performed the week before that 0.02% of cells were leukemic. They pulled him off of immune suppression to give his donated immune system the best chance at killing off the leukemic cells. As of now the cells in his cerebral spinal fluid are 90% leukemia, which is a separate system of the body, and therefore a separate issue, from the 0.02% cells found in the biopsy.
There is still a chance Eric and his doctors can mount an attack against it, and there are 2 different ways they can do that. Option #1 is radiation treatment. However, Eric has already surpassed the maximum lifetime limit. It is recommended that adults receive no more than 5 rems of radiation in their lifetime. In 2008 before the stem cell transplant from his sister Lindsey, Eric was given 1200 rems of total body irradiation. Option #2 is to use chemotherapy. However, since the cells are in the brain, they are separated from the rest of the body by a blood-brain barrier that has tight junctions around the capillaries that do not exist in normal circulation, which restricts microscopic objects such as bacteria and hydrophilic (water attractant) objects from invading. They’d need to drill a small hole in his skull to gain access to the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid).
Eric has decided to go with Option #1 radiation treatment, rather than administering chemo directly into his CSF through his skull. He will be receiving 300 Rads of Whole Brain radiation over the course of 10 days for a total of 3000 rem, but because it is aimed at one specific part they can give him the high dose. He will also be receiving chemotherapy to treat the leukemia in his spinal column.
We will keep you posted with more information as we receive it. But for now please continue to keep Eric in your prayers.