First the good news. They caught "it" early and my prognosis is very good. "It" is amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder where an abnormal protein (amyloid) is produced in bone marrow and can be deposited in organs. Before you read some scary stuff online, two facts: I'm an early stage 2 out of 4 and so far the effects are confined to my kidneys. I'm very lucky.
My persistent wife, Lisa, gets the credit for the early diagnosis. She pushed me to pursue the cause of a slightly elevated protein level discovered during a physical ("Relax. No big deal," I said. "I feel fine and I don't have time for this.") Lisa found a smart Chicago nephrologist who ordered a kidney biopsy. He sent the sample to the Mayo Clinic, which quickly identified amyloidosis, even though it's a tricky thing to diagnose. Again ... very lucky.
The Mayo hematologists are among the best amyloid experts in the world. They say a bone marrow transplant using my own stem cells and chemotherapy is clearly the best option for me. Two-thirds of amyloid transplant patients go into remission and my doctors are confident I will be one of them.
I head to Minnesota first thing Friday and will be off the anchor desk for several months as I undergo this procedure, live in a sterile environment, rebuild my immune system and recover from the effects of chemo.
For the record, I did not wait for the end of sweeps to schedule this. In fact, Dave [Doebler] and Frank [Whittaker] told me not to wait, but March 3 was the first opening on the Mayo schedule after the required medical tests. I thank the bosses for all their support, Allison for her prayers, Brant for his humor and Dick Johnson for covering while I went back and forth to Mayo.
I consider this early diagnosis a gift that left to my own devices I would not have received. I'm going to take full advantage of my good fortune and hit this head on with the most aggressive and proven treatment available.
I will announce this at the end of the 10 p.m. news tonight and share it on social media. As I go through the process, I will also post updates on Facebook. I can't wait to get ahead of this and back to the desk and all of you. Wish me luck!
I wish him a healthy and speedy recovery.