Written to our family and friends in February of 2004. I had already had two experiences with Lymphoma in 1997 and again in 1999. Then, a huge tumor showed up in my abdomen (biggest yet) in 2003, and I had undergone a long chemotherpy for it. That sets the stage for this letter about the possibility of a stem-cell transplant.
Jay and I had another visit with the stem-cell specialist about my/our decision. Here goes…We have decided to go through with the transplant. In our talk with the doctor, he called this (my feeling good, that is) my “window of opportunity” to do this while I am in good enough shape to manage it. My PET-scan came back very good…very little cancer showing up at this time (MUCH better than the CT-scan showed). It was like he originally thought…that a lot that is showing up there is “scar” tissue. He said I would NOT have to have another Bone Marrow test–PTL! He is going to be out of town the weeks of the 9th and 16th of February (2004)…so I will have some of the “preliminary” tests done soon, so they will be out of the way by the time he gets back. Then, we’ll have to wait awhile. The actual tranplant involves:
1. 5 days of Neupogin shots (one each day starting February 26th) to build up my blood! That will be done in the doctor’s office.
2. 3-5 days to “harvest” the healthy stem-cells (a little like a transfusion…starting March 1st–it turned out to be a MUCH bigger deal)…done on an “out-patient” basis at the hospital each day. I will also have a Neopogin shot each day that it takes to do the harvesting.
3. 5 days of mega doses of chemo (done in the hospital…in patient…starting about March 8th)! He says that they’ll give me a great deal of nausea medicine intravenously, so I will be sleeping through most of it–YEAH!
4. Stem-cell re-infusion all at one time. Then, 5-6 days to get my blood built back up (if there are no complications)…done also in the hospital; in-patient basis.
5. I would be in the hospital altogether about 15 to 17 days (hopefully no more than that) because there are several days in-between some of those procedures.
6. He says that you get to feeling “good” MUCH faster than with the long, drawn-out chemo that I’ve had before, because the stem-cells are healthy and my blood will “build up” MUCH faster! THAT’S REALLY GOOD NEWS! He said that we’re talking about a month’s time involved with the treatment instead of 4 to 6 months like the other chemos took.
Although I am not exactly “looking forward” to all this…I DO have a “peace” about it now. We went to our church and had the Sr. Pastor and the whole staff there pray for us, and several prayed out loud. What came out of their mouths was MOST discerning and helpful to us. Each person prayed something that pertained to a different aspect of it all too, which was most interesting. Along with many other’s prayers (as well as our own)…we feel that this IS the thing to do at this time! The Lord has never let me/us down yet…and I feel He will continue to be with me/us in this too! It has not been an “easy” decision…but I’m glad it’s made, and I’m ready to “get on with it!”
Last Friday, I learned that since it will be several weeks until we do this procedure, that I will have a round of Rituxan each week again (no “bad” side-effects). He had NOT told me that! He must have decided that after we left, and he had more time to “ruminate” over it all! I’m also concerned about how Jay’s going to handle all this during “tax season” (being a CPA). He just says, “First things first” (meaning ME first, and TAXES second–ha!). I get concerned too of how the stress might affect him. At night, all this sometimes seems “insurmountable”…but in the morning, we’re ready for a “new day!” I keep thinking of my testimony and all that I share in it, and the Scriptures I’ve claimed about Ben (autistic). Psalm 112: v. 1, 8-12–LB, and Philippians 4: 6-8–LB, John 14 v. 16-18–LB, John 16:33–LB, etc. NOTHING is ANY different about THIS. The same Scriptures hold true…so I’ll just “cling” to them and to the Lord once again! Thank you again for your prayers…We love you…Carole & Jay