It is always a huge relief to receive your test results from a bone marrow biopsy and to see the words “No MRD”. That means no residual disease detected. I got my latest bone marrow test results last week and they showed no MRD. A combination of chemotherapy and my brother’s stem cells have either eliminated or reduced the leukemia to levels that can’t be detected by modern tests. That doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods. A relapse is always a strong possibility, especially given the type of AML mutations originally found in my cells. I read recently that leukemia has a progenitor cell that lurks in the background and can combine with new mutations we undergo every day to result in a relapse. Never a day goes by that I don’t think about the possibility that I have relapsed and that the leukemia is once again multiplying in my marrow and crowding out healthy cells. Only the test results from a bone marrow aspiration can decrease the constant worry, and then only for a week or two. Then the worry rushes back in.
In a way, that worry is a good thing. It reminds you that you have limited time and that you should enjoy the company of your loved ones. It reminds you that you should always keep your affairs in order for the inevitable that all of us will face some day. It’s like a little voice in your head that says “Tic Toc, Tic Toc”. For the time being, that voice is softer but I know it will increase in volume as the months go by until my next bone marrow aspiration.