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OF CELLS

A friend drove me to Rush University hospital in Chicago last Thursday. There I met the team which will supervise preparations for me to have a cell stem transplant. They propose to take my own cells, clean them up, kill everything but me, and then return the gleaming washed cells to my body. It all sounds like science fiction.

 

In preparation I will have two sessions of chemotherapy this coming week, and probably the same in early May. Once they have my rogue protein in some sort of retreat they can begin working on me.

 

It’s a nuisance that Chicago is two hours away, particularly as I am still wheel chair bound, unable to put weight on my broken right leg. I hope for better news about that when I see the orthopedic doctor on May 5. The nuisance factor is that the first stage of the treatment is out-patient, and I must either get someone to drive me there and back, or stay in an expensive hotel.

 

At first they will dose me with all sorts of potions, do a bone marrow autopsy, get the dentist to make sure I don’t have mouth infections, and then bring me in to install tubes above my heart. The tubes have three sections in order to give me concoctions and draw out and later return stem cells. Once the tube is in place they will harvest cells. Shortly afterwards I will be admitted to the hospital and put in isolation. Massive doses of chemo will be administered to kill any bad protein and for that matter anything much else. Then my cells will be returned. Because my immune system will be gone, I will be given all sorts of prophylactic drugs to ward off infection and after a week or so drugs to stimulate the production of white blood cells. Thus begins the healing process.

 

Three weeks later I will be released after receiving anti-pneumonia drugs. The next few weeks will be spent in virtual isolation at home until the time comes when I am assessed to be healthy and strong. If all goes well my disease will be gone. Waldenstrom’s is a rare cancer and thus there’s not the amount of clinical work and evidence about treatment. However a new procedure is now being used which gives hope of a complete recovery, or at least for some years.

 

I look forward to the next few months with hope, excitement and trepidation. It is tough being alone and tackling all this. But the doctor and nurse practitioner at Rush U couldn’t have been more thorough or more encouraging. So do pray for me. I intend to blog through the whole process so you will all know the gory details. Ora pro nobis.