Reverdy Lewin Orrell, Jr. (Condition Update)


He is in a study at John Hopkins Hospital and goes there every Tuesday and Friday. Due to his age (85, will be 86 on 10 October), he is not a candidate for traditional chemo via an I.V. drip. Instead, this study and treatment program is centered around the elderly with leukemia. He takes pills for his chemo treatment.

He sometimes breaks out in a rash and hives when receiving plasma (platelets). The head of his study says this is actually a good sign, and thus far, everyone who has had this side effect, has gone into some form of remission down the line.

His study consists of 6 periods of chemo treatments. He has just finished up his second period of pills. Somewhere around the middle of the treatments, they should be able to predict if the study is helping him or not.

He still has the fungal phenomena, which is really hitting him hard. It is a very stubborn strain and difficult to shake. They just changed his medicine and we are starting to see a slight improvement. The phenomena seems to be starting to break up.

The fungal phenomena on top of the leukemia and chemo treatments is really tough. Naturally he doesn’t feel much like eating or drinking. This caused a problem last Friday when his tests showed he was in kidney failure. They pumped him with two bags of fluid. His numbers improved by Tuesday, but still not enough. He was given another bag of fluid on Tuesday. Overall, his total numbers seem to be holding their own or improving.

Thus far he has received 22 units of whole blood; plus many bags of plasma (platelets). His blood is checked when he arrives at Hopkins, every Tuesday and Friday. Then he is seen by a doctor. Every week or so he is examined by the head of the program. At that point they decide on what he needs on that day. He sometimes has gone a session or two without requiring any plasma or whole blood. The doctors feel that when the fungal phenomena can be beaten, he will see some real improvement.

Some of the sessions are very long. I dropped them off at 8:00 AM a few weeks ago, and didn’t pick them back up until 7 PM. However, some days are much shorter (3 or 4 hours), although the average session is probably 6-7 hours. That’s a long day for him, when he is especially weak. Walking and navigating is difficult at the end of a long day. Since Hopkins isn’t far from where I work downtown, I drop them off, then pick them up on Tuesdays. Nora has arraigned for a four day workweek and is able to take them and stay with them all day on Fridays.

The chemo has caused him to loose his hair. I have shaved my head as an expression of my love and support for what he is going through.

Most days he is very tired, but his spirits remain high. I think once the fungal phenomena is behind him, he’ll see a big improvement.

I would like to thank everyone for their emails and phone calls about my father’s condition. He’s a wonderful, soft spoken gentleman – completely different from his opinioned, loud-mouthed son.

He’s not only my father, but my Brother in the Masonic Fraternity.

We are all very hopeful that the worse of the fungal phenomia has past and that his treatments are fighting the cancer.

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