Category: Research

City of Hope Day!

It is the long awaited day of our City of Hope appointment!  City of Hope is ranked as the #15 best Cancer Center in the United States by U.S. News Rankings and is also one of the NCCN’s 23 hospitals.

To get to this day, my mom went through 25 days of inpatient at St. Joseph’s in Savannah, braved nadir during her first round of chemotherapy without getting sick, got successfully discharged and flew the 4 hour flight (like a rock star) from Georgia to California!  She will have some lab work, we will meet with the doctor and explore the facility.  Our discussions will include the following:

  • Future chemotherapy
  • Autologous vs Allogeneic stem cell transplant – most likely Allogeneic.  More about this in another most.  Auto is from your own stem cells; Allo is from another person’s stem cells
  • CNS Prophylaxis
  • Treatment at a local hospital in partnership with City of Hope
  • Complete Blood Counts

Wish us luck!  Thank you for all the support thus far.

We will get there a little early and hopefully get to explore some of their beautiful healing gardens!  Here’s to a healthy mind, spirit and body!


Cytogenetics, Chromosome 11, Mixed-Lineage Leukemia (MLL)

Today, Dr. Lewis talked to us about my mom’s cytogenetics results.  I will try to describe this in a accurate way, but please keep in mind that my road to learning the language of Cancer is still relatively new.  I also need to brush up on some high school and college biology classes!

She has abnormalities in Chromosome 11. The results say:

Abnormal female karyotype with a deletion in the q-arm* of chromosome 11 in 4/5 metaphase cells available analyzed.  

These abnormal cells also had additional non-clonal abnormalities.

The remaining 1/5 cell showed a 46,XX karyotype.

Submission of a follow-up specimen to monitor karyotypic evolution should be considered as clinically indicated.  Karyotypic evolution often precedes disease progression. 

*I read that q-arm = long-arm

This basically means that she is high risk.  The abnormalities of Chromosome 11 affects the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene.  The possibility of a stem-cell transplant is quite high at the moment.  There is much to learn about cytogenetics and I will be updating this post as I learn more.

I found this article about Chromosome 11 and MLL.

City of Hope and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN)

Recently, I learned about City of Hope and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) on two independent occasions.  My cousin told me about an acquaintance who has been successfully treated at City of Hope.  She spoke highly of the CIty of Hope Medical Center.  The next day, one of my good friends (Dr. Todd Jones!) stopped by Savannah after he heard about my mom’s diagnosis to chat with me about resources.  He asked me if I had heard of NCCN.  NCCN is an alliance of 23 of the world’s leading cancer centers.  It provides a plethora of information and contains the latest research and studies.  Todd told the NCCN site is where many oncologists will stop for resources.  It is self described as “Your Best Resources in the Fight Against Cancer.” As it turns out, City of Hope is one of the 23 medical centers part of NCCN.

City of Hope is “recognized worldwide for its compassionate patient care, innovative science and translational research, which rapidly turns laboratory breakthroughs into promising new therapies.”  It is currently ranked as the 15th best cancer hospital in the nation, with an entire group devoted to Leukemia.  It is a 30 mile, 45 minute drive from my aunts home in Orange County, California.

Dr. Lewis and I briefly talked about City of Hope this morning.  He will do more research and recommend a good transfer site and doctor for us.  We trust his judgement and expertise.  As my mom says (translated): “He has such a kind soul.  I feel better each time he stops by each morning.”  Until any relocation happens, her white blood cell (WBC) count needs to reach above 5 * 10^9 WBCs per liter.  It is currently at 1.2 * 10^9 WBC per liter.  From my understanding, when she was admitted, her WBC count was at 90!  From what I have read (need to further verify with doc), the normal range is 4.5 – 10.0 WBC/liter!

Right now, we are rallying for the bad mutated, cancerous, “terrorist”, evil WBCs to go away with the chemotherapy drug and for the good WBCs to steadily rise.  With our powers combined, we will find the next best point of care location for Mama Pham!