Health update from Protodeacon Pavel Wolkow
Glory to God for all the blessings in life!
I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and ask that you continue to do so as I proceed with the next phase of treatment.
After one month of numerous doctor and hospital visits, lab tests and exams, I am happy to say that in addition my siblings were found to be 100% donor matches. However, there has been a new development. Through the intellectual perseverance of my Hematologist and Bone Marrow Specialists Team, they found that despite the previous findings of my diagnosis, there were some inconsistencies. My findings did not fall into the complete diagnosis of Myelodysplastic Syndrome even though my bone marrow exam revealed all the previous symptoms. Another Lab test came back positive for PNH (Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria) a rare, acquired, life-threatening disease of the blood. The disease is characterized by destruction of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), blood clots (thrombosis), impaired bone marrow function, and a 3 to 5% risk of developing leukemia. However, after careful examination and discussion by the medical teams on these results, it was found that I now fall into the middle of both of these conditions. Even though I do not present with a majority of the specific symptoms of this diagnosis, I do have a CLONE or Rogue Cell which is suppressing my bone marrow. The good news here is that this condition is treatable through a more conservative approach. A Bone Marrow Transplant is not needed at this time!
The treatment of choice is Immunosuppressive therapy. Immunosuppressive drug therapy lowers your body's immune response. This prevents your immune system from attacking your bone marrow, allowing bone marrow stem cells to grow, which raises blood counts. The medication used is called ATG. Usually, ATG is given by IV infusion into a vein for 8-12 hours a day, for 4 days in the hospital and then Cyclosporine is added which prevents T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, from becoming active. Once the T-lymphocytes are turned off by the cyclosporine, they stop attacking stem cells in the bone marrow. This allows bone marrow stem cells to grow back and start making blood cells again. If it works, ATG usually stops the need for transfusions within 3 months.
I want to re-emphasize that I do not have cancer or leukemia, and that my condition is completely treatable. If I follow doctor’s orders, I will soon be back to my “normal” life and duties.
In the meantime, I ask our Archpastors and clergy for their blessings as I undergo the Sacrament of Holy Unction at home prior to this treatment, and for the continued prayers of all. I will be admitted to the hospital by the end of next week to start this treatment. My best wishes to All and a spiritually uplifting Nativity Fasting Season,
Protodeacon Pavel Wolkow