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I was first diagnosed in 1990. They told me I had just a week or so to live. I was in critical condition. I was bruised, and bleeding from every orifice in my body. I was too weak to even concentrate. Everything was dizzy. My spleen was in terrible pain. The Air Force transferred me to Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
There I received Alpha Interferon II treatments. I was on it for over one year. Before I started treatment, my WBC was 1.2. After Interferon, it was 3.1 partial remission. I relapsed 1 year later. I tried to work but always tired and constant headaches.
To make this story short and to the point, I was the first to be given 2CDA commercially, and the first to have a second treatment. It only placed me into partial remission both times, only lasting 2 years after each session of treatments. The best my WBC ever got was 2.2 average. The doctors said it would never get better than that. Now after 24 bone marrow biopsies I believe I fould the right doctor who has kept me alive. I know I live on borrowed time past the limits, and I’ve been told leukemia is for life, but my doctor has done miracles for me. He said we will try the old with the new and see how the outcome is. My WBC was then the lowest ever in my life .74. His Name is Dr. Sonoda, Col., U.S. Air Force, Oncologist.
First they removed my spleen. I had to have shots before the surgery to increase my WBC. I’m glad they did because it was found my spleen was impacted with hairy cells. It weighed 13 lbs. on removal. They had to take it out piece by piece laprascopically. This is the old method that started me towards recovery. Then after I recovered from surgery I was put on a regimate of Pentostatin weekly for 1 whole year, this was the new method. Combined treatments my WBC has been a constant 8.1, no sign of hairy cells.
It’s been over one year now. I cannot believe this. 27 bone marrow biopsies later………… maybe a record? I now believe this is the cure for everyone with hairy cell. I know removing the spleen makes me vulnerable to infections, but it was either that or death. I also have type II diabetes which may be a byproduct of hairy cell treatments from 2CDA. I take my flu shots, and pnemovax every time they are due. I hope this is encouragment for someone.
Ralph Michael Bird
February 1, 2001