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Oke back home, healing

State Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard) seems hardly surprised at all that his doctors are calling him a miracle. With so many people praying for him to recover, he said, it was bound to happen.

“I know it’s because of all the prayers and people involved. There’s no question about it,” Oke said, explaining that, of course, his doctors had a lot to do with why he so far seems to be winning his battle with multiple myeloma, the rare blood cancer he was diagnosed with a year ago.

After finishing months of grueling treatment that involved removing then re-transplanting his own stem-cells, Oke is back home and doing better than anyone — including his doctors — dared hope.

“They said I only had 3 percent of the bad cells left in my body, which is way down from the nearly 50 percent I had last time,” Oke said, explaining that the cancer is not curable yet, so he cannot expect to be completely free of it. “But they said I was in such good health that they gave me a much higher dose of chemotherapy than they normally would for someone my age, and I’m glad they did, because it seems to have knocked it out.”

Though the treatment was far from enjoyable, Oke said he was incredibly impressed and grateful for the advances in medicine he had seen in his lifetime.

“My brother died of leukemia when I was 20,” he said. “He only lasted one month after they found it. And with what they know today, they could probably have saved him. So it’s neat to see the progress.”

Oke said he was also grateful he was spared the painful sores most patients get in their mouth and throat, but he did lose the ability to taste anything but metal for a long time.

“All I could taste was a metal, yucky, garbage taste, and I was miserable. You know, if you can’t even enjoy ice cream, you’re really in a bad way,” he joked. “But I’m getting over that now. I’m beginning to taste again.”

Next he hopes to regain his energy. Now, he said, he can’t move around for more than a half hour without getting tired, and is under strict orders to stay out of his garden and away from the lawn mower.

Luckily, however, while he and his wife Judy were staying near the hospital in Seattle, his neighbors and fellow church members tended to their house and garden.

But there is one thing no one can do for him.

“I just hope that by October, when it’s pheasant hunting season again, my energy will be back and I can get out there again with my dogs,” he said.

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