Update from Howie
Howie hasn't authorized me to say anything, but on July 3 he did share this information about the current stage of his treatment for mantle-cell lymphoma (a rare form of lymphoma) with his Facebook fans:
I'm in the hospital getting stem cell transplants to keep the cancer in remission. I was feeling pretty low and fatigued all day. But I just put on "Friday Night" by Brutalism and, man, I'm alive, I'm alive!! I hope I don't scare the nurses.Back then he was on (by my reckoning) Day 5 of eight consecutive days of chemo treatments in preparation for the transplant, but on the afternoon of July 7 he posted (and got, at last count, 186 comments):
Stem cell transplants starting right now. Prayers welcomeInvoking prayers doesn't sound like Howie to me, but then, this isn't your everyday medical procedure. Just to clarify, since he began treatment for the lymphoma, he's known: (a) that the stem-cell transplant lay ahead if the rest of the treatment went well (which it did), meaning that making it this far is an extremely hopeful sign, and (b) that the procedure wasn't going to be pleasant -- to put it as mildly as possible.
As regular readers know, despite the fierce toll taken by the side effects of the previous treatments (though once they were completed, he got a measure of relief from them, as he has written, when he finally threw medical marijuana at them), his doctor kept assuring him that in terms of fighting the lymphoma, his was one of the most successful cases she's had.
Going into this round of treatment, he's had every expectation that its effects would dwarf everything that came before -- and while he's undergoing treatment he's without benefit of the medical marijuana. It appears that those expectations have been realized. However, even as he rattled off the horrors he's experiencing (Friday he wrote, "I know I haven't reached bottom yet but I'm headed there"), he says his doctor "still insists I'm in the top 1% of responses!" As you've noticed, through it all he has continued blogging (and keeping up with his blogworld contacts) and tweeting.
He's had a lot of faith in his doctor (she's a specialist in mantle cell, of which there aren't a lot), and thus far she's gotten him into remission. As he noted in his Facebook post, keeping him in remission is what the transplant is about, and the process clearly isn't for the squeamish. But at the other end, the doctor has given him reason to believe in an excellent outcome.