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Wed Jul 23, 2014, 10:58 PM

Stem Cell Transplant - all systems go

Process started at UM Sylvester Cancer Center here in Miami. Begins with 2 weeks of outpatient procedures and tests pulmonary, heart (already done), blood work, psych evaluation, bone marrow biopsy (scares the crap out of me), 5 days of shots to stimulate the stem cells then 1-3 days to harvest the stem cells from my blood (sort of like dialysis they say). Then I wait until a room is available (they only have 14)- hopefully within the next week or so following the harvest (sooner the better as the risk of relapse is high with my type of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (AITL T cell- very rare and very aggressive). Then, a 3-4 week hospital stay which starts with 5 days of massive doses of chemo (knocks out just about everything include my entire immune system), then transferring my stem cells back into my body (like a transfusion). Then we wait until my bone marrow starts producing healthy white blood cells. The process actually changes the DNA if it works correctly. But it's a long, arduous, rather risky (mostly because of the risk of infection) process. When released, I'll be recuperating at home mostly for 3-6 months while my immune system builds itself back up. As I write these words, I'm in awe of how far medical miracles have come and at the same time, how daunting and overwhelming this all is (not to mention terrifying). But two expert oncologists at two different well renowned cancer centers believe this is the wise choice as it will increase the possibility of a longer remission or even a cure by about 30-40% so I'm thinking it's worth the risk.

For the next few weeks until I'm admitted into the hospital, I plan to fill my days with as much fun, laughter, good food and wine as possible and surround myself with friends and family that I love being with. Not to mention celebrating how far I've come. And the fact that my Obamacare is going to take care of me all the way through this.

Wish me luck- it's going to be a long 6 months! And if any of you have personally experienced an autologous stem cell transplant, would love to hear from you either here or via PM.

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Reply Stem Cell Transplant - all systems go (Original post)
KaryninMiami Jul 2014 OP
Solly Mack Jul 2014 #1
KaryninMiami Aug 2014 #6
sinkingfeeling Jul 2014 #2
KaryninMiami Aug 2014 #5
slipslidingaway Jul 2014 #3
KaryninMiami Aug 2014 #4
slipslidingaway Aug 2014 #7

Response to KaryninMiami (Original post)

Thu Jul 24, 2014, 09:19 AM

1. Wow! Wishing you the best!

The process....it does sound terrifying and I think you amazingly brave.



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Response to Solly Mack (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 2, 2014, 11:37 AM

6. Thanks, Solly Mack.

Not feeling so brave- just feeling like I want to get through this all and out the other side as soon as possible.

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Response to KaryninMiami (Original post)

Thu Jul 24, 2014, 09:31 AM

2. Good luck. It is amazing what medical procedures we have now. I had a good

friend who died from the same type of cancer in 2005.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 2, 2014, 11:28 AM

5. Yes - it's amazing how science has evolved since then.

Still a risky business but now there are options and they've really got this stem cell transplant thing down pretty well as it's been many years of research and development since they started.

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Response to KaryninMiami (Original post)

Fri Jul 25, 2014, 10:55 PM

3. Best of luck ...

use the time before to build your strength (just walking is great) and then after the transplant remember to drink and eat a little each day, as much as you can. They do not let you out until you can take pills by mouth. When you can afterwards ... get moving, it really does help. My husband had an allogeneic transplant almost 4 years ago.

Positive attitude and take it day by day!





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Response to slipslidingaway (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 2, 2014, 11:27 AM

4. Thanks so much- muddling through day by day.

Started the stem cell stimulation shots today. Walking or swimming as much as possible. Being as good to myself as I can and relishing every moment of feeling almost normal. Hoping to be admitted soon after they harvest the cells but there are only 14 beds so it may be a while. How is your husband doing?

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Response to KaryninMiami (Reply #4)

Sat Aug 2, 2014, 07:02 PM

7. Neupogen shots ??? ...

never had them, although I had to give them to my husband after his transplant ... a longer story. Still annoyed that we ultimately threw away about 8K worth of Neupogen mainly because of insurance BS ... another story.

My sister-in-law was my husband's donor so she had the shots for a few days before donating. She had to have a central line to donate because of her veins and had two sessions.

Just keep up your strength as best you can, put on some weight but check with the doc on swimming. My husband's doc did not want him swimming for the month between his induction chemo and the transplant, she was afraid he could get an infection that might delay the transplant. If nothing else, keep your head out of the water but do check.

I hope that you are admitted soon, sometimes you just want to move along!

My husband is doing well thank you, October will be four years, but there were some challenges.

Feel free to ask me any questions. Remember to walk, eat, drink as much as you can ... even when you do not feel like it!



P.S. See about setting up a caringbridge or carepage site, but let someone else be in charge of the updates. You can just read the messages of support.





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