Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009 (Father's Day)

Hello friends and family.

This may be the first you're learning of what has transpired in our lives in the past two weeks. We've obviously added your name to a new email group to alert you that Gil is ill. Sorry it has to be such an impersonal way of notifying each of you. I'd rather be able to make a personal phone call to each and every one of you.

We've decided to start a blog so that you can have a central place for updates.

Quick summary: Gil entered the hospital one week ago today and was diagnosed after a bone marrow biopsy with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This was not good news. Gil has enjoyed a healthy and active lifestyle, and to learn that he has cancer was a surprising and unexpected diagnosis. He was 100% healthy prior to two weeks ago. That is when his symptoms of tiredness and myalgias began and he had bloodwork drawn to determine the cause. Low neutrophils, low platelets and low hemoglobin pointed towards a leukemia diagnosis. Bone marrow biopsy the day after hospital admission confirmed it.

The treatment for AML involves chemotherapy and possible stem cell transplant. He started chemotherapy two days ago and after a few setbacks, he is into his first full week of treatment. He will be needing a bone marrow transplant (also known as stem cell transplant).

We won't be able to give you all the details about AML, or what the treatment course involves, but you can easily get information on the web. In fact, even though we're a medical family, we had to start on Wikipedia and slowly make our way up to more sophisticated medical resources to learn about his complicated disease.

Gil is in remarkably good spirits. He has high and low energy times throughout the day. Today is a good day and he has been up and walking around most of the morning.

Adam flew into town on Friday and is staying with us for the week. Evan is flying in today from LA having just come home yesterday from ten days in Thailand on vacation. Marika is home from school for the summer and is living at home while we support Gil's hospitalization.

One of Gil's health concerns regarding this current chemotherapy course is how he would handle the associated nausea. He was given a new anti-nausea medication called Aloxi which only needs to be given every 6 days! Imagine!

He will probably be hospitalized for 6-8 weeks so he has made his hospital room his "home-away-from-home" and it is pretty cozy if you overlook the "institutional" furnishings and decor.

Gil is on suppression precautions and cannot have visitors, fresh fruit, raw foods, or flowers.

I am taking phone calls on my cell: (248) 830-0517 or you can send cards/correspondence to: 4258 Windmill Farms, Milford, MI 48380 or email to:

We're trying this "blog" thing to see if it makes updating Gil's condition easier. You'll let us know how it works for you?

With love,

The Raff Family


  1. Just wanted to say thank you for everyone's well wishes. It's times like these when family and friends are most important.


  2. Gil,
    We're looking for a new meaning for the Raff Regression Channel and only complete regressions will do!!!
    Senters from Seattle

  3. So happy when I come in each day and see a smile on Gil's face. Today is just such a day!

  4. Dear Gil, I was glad to see this wonderful blog started by your family. Thank you for sharing the updates. We are wishing you a speedy recovery and missed you very much at the recent SCCT meeting. Hang in there, you will surely be back just the way you want and we are all looking forward to your return.
    Best wishes

    Uma Valeti