Re: I am a U.S. Marine and I have CML help
Gleevec is a wonder drug with a few drawbacks.
First, the side-effects that you are already experiencing are not severe compared with interferon or some other treatments, but would be nice to be free of the leg pains. Gleevec does not stimulate your immune system, to produce a generalized response and multiple severe side-effects like interferon does. It targets the specific gene mutation that causes the bone marrow to overproduce badly formed blood cells.
Second, CML can in some cases become resistant to Gleevec due to new mutation variants of the Ph chromosome. This is a good argument for BMT, but there are risks associated with bone marrow transplants, too.
Third, Gleevec is the standard first line treatment and has been for several years. Research has not been idle during that time. Second generation drugs are likely to be approved by FDA this year. While these second generation drugs are not yet available outside of government approved testing programs, the preliminary results have been excellent. (See Bristol-Meyers and Novartis websites as examples).
Fourth, Gleevec is expensive. Any of the second generation drugs will be expensive, too - once they are approved and available as treatment alternatives. However, if you are accepted into a manufacturer sponsored test protocol, the drugs are typically supplied free.
I was diagnosed about three weeks ago with CML in accelerated phase. The oncologist at a nearby hospital was not optimistic about the treatment he could offer and recommended that I let him transfer me to the UT cancer research institute and hope that they had more advanced treatment alternatives. I was fortunate enough to be admitted at M.D. Anderson cancer research institute in my home town. The oncologist here is optimistic of my complete remission in a year. The test medication I have been taking for about 15 days is the second generation drug from Gleevec's manufacturer. My blood counts are almost back to normal. The disclosure statement listed possible side effects, but I have experienced none of them. This drug is designed to address most of the known mutations of the Ph chromosome. Time will tell how well it works, but maybe by the time the drawbacks of this medication become evident, the third generation drugs will be ready for in vivo testing.
I'm a lot older than you, so BMT is not an attractive alternative for me. For someone your age, the possibility of a complete cure may be worth the risks of the procedure - especially if there is a closely compatible donor available.
Some of the 2nd generation drug test protocols may be closed to you while you are taking Gleevec and still in remission. However, some other tests may be specifically targeted for you if you relapse.
I feel foolish telling you as a Marine to never give up - but I'm telling you, anyway. Never give up. Things beyond your control may have gotten you into this mess - it could very well be that other things also beyond your influence will produce a cure.
Good Luck and God Bless You.