Cycle 1 Day 11: It’s a New Day

Sunrise on the Bay

I won’t lie, yesterday was a tough day emotionally and mentally, but today it’s a new day.

Yesterday was another treatment, plus a conference call with the specialist about the bone marrow transplant procedure.

Up front, the bone marrow transplant’s goal is cure, and the procedure has a “curative intent”.

The bone marrow transplant is a fair bit more intense than we’d expected. Up till now my current thinking is that there is a slow reveal about what the medical procedures are going to be. A bit at a time, to help you manage the information. This time it was a pretty big “dump” of information, with even more details to follow.

So, I’ll just outline the process at a high level with some tentative dates to give everyone some idea of the activities and timeframes. The doctor outlined it as a 3 part process.

Part 1:
Continue on with current treatments until some time after Cycle 2 (est. between April 22nd-May 10th). At that point there will be a CT scan. The purpose of the scan is to confirm that the tumour has reduced by 1/2.

Part 2:
Collect stem cells. In the “old” days this involved surgery, drilling into the hip bone area and sucking out the bone marrow. Less than appealing eh? But, in the current process, it’s all done via the blood in an about 4-6 hour event that was referred to as “uneventful”. Simplistically, it’s blood out one arm into a machine that does the extraction of stem cells and pumps what remains back into the other arm. Kind of like an oil change, sort of? This is likely to happen towards the end of Cycle 3, sometime in the end of May to mid-June. Of course as the dates get farther out there is less accuracy so things may slide one way or the other.

Part 3:
The Exciting Part. In the hospital at HSC for 3-4 weeks starting early June. One week of intensive chemotherapy treatments with the goal of wiping out the existing bone marrow / stem cells. One day to re-infuse the good stem cells extracted in Part 2. 12-14 days of recovery where they are monitoring closely. Then another couple of days to show that I’m good to go home.

Our next meeting with the bone marrow transplant team, face to face, will be around the end of Cycle 2, in approximately 5 weeks.

So, a lot to take in, a lot to process. Yesterday I felt pretty subdued, extremely tired and very challenged. However, today is a new day.

This morning, after an enormous amount of sleep and some reflections, I’ve made a change in the way I’m going to think about things going forward. Actually, just a few of the many changes that have been made in recent weeks.

I am no longer thinking about chemotherapy, chemicals, pill as just drugs, but as medicine and treatments that will only do good in my body and cause no harm. They will only do what they are supposed to do, which is to destroy the cancerous cells.

Also, every twinge, sensation, stomach gurgle, weight gain, weight loss and any other weird thing I feel inside me is the cancer tumour breaking up and leaving my body. Poof! Gone!

So thankful for family and friends reaching out in love, prayer and support for Shirley and I. Frequently at the exact moment one of us needs it. We are blessed.

Happy Birthday Shirley! Perhaps one of the weirdest birthdays given what is going on in the world, also perhaps one of the best so far. Love you so much.