Dave Venanzi
allo stem-cell transplant for refractory
Multiple Myeloma 11/05-12/05
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updated 7/18/07

David Venanzi spent 32 days hospitalized at UCLA Medical Center in Nov-Dec. '05 for an allogenic bone marrow (stem cell) transplant from his sister, Amy,
who is a 10/10 HLA match for him. He had some complications during his recovery at home due to a rare form of Graft vs. Host Disease, that caused large
pyogenic granulomas on his tongue. He is still battling Multiple Myeloma and is currently taking Revlimid and Velcade (1/07).
We continue to look for treatment options.

 The Survivor Movie


Dave was diagnosed 2/12/01 with stage IIIb IgG kappa Multiple Myeloma (blood plasma cancer).
After induction chemotherapy of four rounds of VAD (Vincristine, Adriamycin, and Dexamethazone),
he underwent an autologous stem cell transplant (using his own harvested stem cells) at UCLA Medical Center in 8/01 that gave him about fourteen months of remission. Courses of oral Cytoxan and Prednisone, and Thalidomide and Dexamethazone kept his levels plateaued until the spring of 2005. Velcade chemotherapy (a new proteasome inhibitor infusion therapy) was not effective in the summer of '05.

We were told that an allogenic stem cell transplant from a donor was Dave's only real hope.
We had few other options, none of them particularily hopeful. Dave was becoming transfusion-dependent as
his bone marrow was failing to produce adequate red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A matched sibling donor was the only acceptable match. One sibling was proven not to be a match, and Dave's sister, Amy, was serving as an Army Reserves Major, deployed in Iraq. She was able to fly to Landstuhl Air Force Base in Germany to give blood for the test to see if she was AT LEAST a 6/6 HLA match for Dave.

Dave and I were feeling really low after a very depressing meeting with our primary oncologist
when we got the call on 10/18/05 from UCLA that Amy was a match - a 10/10 match!

My definition of a hero...
Major Delanie Amy Cilento arriving straight from Iraq 11/3/05. After spending 18 months of deployment to serve the United States, Amy has come to California on a mission of the heart- to save her brother's life by donating her stem cells to him.
A hero indeed!

Let's say thanks to our US soldiers stationed overseas!

Dave with sisters Amy and Christina on 11/5/05. Christina traveled to California
from Florida to support her siblings. Thanks so much, Chris!

Dave on 11/5/05

Dave on 11/13/05


Sister Amy cuts Dave's hair on 11/13/05 in prep for
losing his hair after the chemotherapy.

Amy harvested over four million stem cells on the early morning of 11/14/05. This was an uncomfortable process that required Amy to take injections
of Neupogen for the five days previous to the day of harvest.
(Thank-you SO MUCH, Amy!)

After receiving platelets from a local hospital in the morning, Dave entered UCLA Medical Center 11/14/05
for placement of a central venous cathether into his chest. He was very weak and needed four pints of blood transfused before chemotherapy could
begin. The first six days of hospitilization, Dave received Busulfan and Fluradabine high dose chemotherapy to induce a myeloablative state
(i.e. kill his bone marrow so that it could no longer make blood cells and hopefully kill some cancer cells also!). His bone marrow was effectively killed
by this therapy and Amy's stem cells were then introduced by way of infusion into the central venous cathether
to "rescue" Dave on 11/23/05. Once engrafted, Amy's stem cells would begin to make red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Dave's hair actually grew the first two weeks in the hospital. photo on 11/27/05

On On 12/5/05, Dave has now lost his hair but his spirit remains strong. He's had some difficult days but has done extremely well, overall. He has engrafted with sister Amy's stem cells! His blood counts are rising ( a GOOD THING) and hopefully he will be able to go home very soon!

update 12/10/05 Dave's blood counts are rising very well with the engraftment and he feels a bit better every day. He has severe mucositis and has not been able to eat anything but broth and soft ice cream for nearly two weeks. He will not be able to go home until he can swallow food and oral medications.

update 12/18/05 Dave was able to go home on 12/14/05 after thirty days of hospitalization at UCLA Medical Center. He required thirteen pints of blood infusions during his stay! He is still very weak and fatigues easily. He lost a lot of weight as he was unable to eat much of anything for over two weeks. He has a severe case of mucositis, an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and esophagus. He is only able to eat liquid, non-acidic foods. I am SO HAPPY to have him home with me! He will require a lot of care in the coming months. A home care nurse will come twice a week for the next eight weeks for blood draws and intravenous gamma globulin. As Dave has a brand new immune system (courtesy of his sister, Amy), he will need to be very careful to avoid any type of infection.

update 12/26/05 Dave has had a few setbacks and has required iv antibiotics and
blood transfusions since going home, but he is doing well overall.

update 1/2/06 Dave was readmitted to UCLA Medical Center on 12/27/05 due to
low blood counts, requiring transfusions, and a fever of unknown origin. He had some
high readings on his lab work re: liver function and I was really worried for a few days that his
liver would fail. He was released for home again on 12/29/05.

Dave at home on 12/15/05

Dave at home on 1/1/066

Dave and Gail on 17th wedding anniversary, 1/21/06

Dave's recovery was a bit difficult in the spring of '06. He had a number of setbacks
and has a rare form of Graft versus Host Disease that has been difficult to manage.
Dave continues to battle Multiple Myeloma.

above: Dave with our beloved Hyacinth Macaw, Iris
(both images taken 3/31/06)
at right: Dave snuggles with our Mousebird, MyMai
(look, his moustache is growing back!)


Dave was able to play at the Ojai Classic Rock Festival on 4/1/06!
(That's him in the rainbow sherpa hat!)
His band is
The Allmost Brothers.
It was a wonderful day!
Click here for more images!


Dave and our dog, Casey, in Palos Verdes on 11/4/06

Dave and Iris playing on 11/4/06

Dave and our dog, Casey, on 11/26/06

 Dave watching a biplane over Palos Verdes, CA coast on 11/26/06

UUpdate 12/22/06- Dave has relapsed again, and is still fighting Multiple Myeloma. The latest lab work shows that Dave's immune system is severely compromised and that he is anemic and neutropenic. He has had increased pain over the past several weeks and we have just discovered that he has three fractured ribs. The level of tumor cells in his bone marrow is very high and he needs a new treatment. His bones are becoming weaker. We had anticipated that he would enter a Phase II clinical trial for a new chemotherapy drug, XL999, at the beginning of November at UCLA. On 11/2/06 we learned that the study has been halted due to cardiac toxicity. Dave just finished all of the screening tests to participate in this study, therefore, we were quite disappointed. Dave was to have begun a novel treatment on 11/27/06 that is a combination of two of the newest drugs for Myeloma, Velcade and Revlimid. This combination has shown a very high response rate in trials at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and we arehopeful for a good response!
Dave began Velcade 11/27 and on 12/21/06 we were granted insurance approval for the Revlimid Dave needs!
This treatment has shown great promise in a study done at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute!

Gail and Dave- 12/06


Update 1/8/07- Dave began Revlimid on 12/26/06 and is beginning his third round of Velcade chemotherapy. The side effects of these drugs
can be very debilitating and Dave is feeling very fatigued. His bone pain continues to be considerable. We are waiting for lab results now, to
begin to evauate Dave's response to the new medications. We are just taking life slowly around here and we find time to laugh at something every day!

Dave relapsed in 2006 and is still fighting Multiple Myeloma. He has had increased pain over the past several months and has suffered three fractured ribs, as his bones have become weaker. The level of tumor cells in his bone marrow is very high. Dave began Velcade and Revlimid chemotherapy in 12/06 and there was no positive response. He had a difficult time in the past few months, with low blood counts and increased pain and fatigue, and the lab results in 1/07 were not at all encouraging.

Dave and Iris on 4/Dave and Iris on 4/4/074
update 6/7/07 Dave's latest lab report showed a very high cancer marker that has risen significantly during the past two months. Dave has been very ill this past winter and spring with a lot of bone pain and has suffered more pathological bone fractures of his clavicle and ribs. We saw a Multiple Myeloma specialist, Dr. Robert Vescio, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center on 5/31/07, and he recommended two possibilities for treatment for Dave.

update 7/18/07 Dave is feeling quite a bit better after receiving iv chemotherapy on 6/22/07. He was quite ill for several weeks with a number of miserable side-effects including intense bone pain and high fevers. He was losing his hair again so he has cut it short, which was quite disconcerting to our pet Hyacinth Macaw, Iris! Dave's lab reports this spring showed a very high cancer marker that had risen significantly during the past three months. He has been very ill these past several months with a lot of bone pain and he has suffered more pathological bone fractures of his clavicle and ribs. We saw a Multiple Myeloma specialist, Dr. Robert Vescio, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center on 5/31/07, and he recommended VAD iv chemotherapy.


Dave has the most wonderful family and friends! We thank all of you and especially,
Dave's sister, Amy, for your loving assistance and for saving Dave's life!

We thank-you all for your kind understanding and support at this time!

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation- Ann Landers Research Fund
Please support blood cancer research! International Myeloma Foundation
Do you or does someone you know have cancer?
There is help:
Association of Cancer Online Resources
PLEASE sign the Lance Armstrong Tour of Hope Cancer Promise (no donation required)!

ATTITUDE (author unknown)

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. "Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hairtoday." So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. "H-M-M, " she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today." So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. "Well," she said, "Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail." So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. "YEAH!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Attitude is everything

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