Thursday, September 07, 2017

Medical Update: Another Stanford Adventure

20170906_131932 (960x1280)20170906_131956 (960x1280)Joyce and I headed down to Stanford for our medical consult yesterday. It was a long day. We left El Dorado a little before 9 AM. We arrived back home a little after 9:30 PM. With heavy traffic it took us about three and a half hours to get to Stanford and about five hours to get back home. We did take an hour to stop at Olive Garden for a little dinner on the way home. The purpose of the visit was to discuss with the doctors, nurses and the social worker what was involved in the bone marrow transplant process. It's not official yet, all my doctors still need to consult, but it looks like I will be a bone marrow transplant patient starting sometime this month. We learned a lot yesterday about what this means. It will be at least a six to eight week process once my chemo puts me back in remission. Below is what we're probably looking at over the next two months. This is a best case scenario, if complications come up it will make this process even longer.

Tomorrow: I will get my second immuno-chemotherapy. 20170907_085512 (720x1280)Hopefully this will clean out all the lymphoma from my lymph system and my blood. After after a couple weeks I will get another PET scan and another bone marrow biopsy to determine the status of the cancer. If these are clear we will proceed to the next step. If they are not clear I will do another round of immuno-chemotherapy and we'll try again 3 weeks later.

Mobilization : This step involves moving stem cells out of the bone marrow and into the blood for collection. It is accomplished by administering chemotherapy and hormones to stimulate the recovery of my white blood cells I will get some chemotherapy and receive a hormone to stimulate the blood cells. This will also involve a surgical procedure in which they will remove the port I have in my chest and put one in that can be used in both directions at the same time; putting in and taking out.

Collection:  When my blood and bone marrow are clear of cancer they will quickly proceed to collect the stem cells from my blood before the cancer has a chance to recur. This will be done in 3 or 4 days at the Stanford Hospital. I'm hoping that they will be able to do this the first week of October. If the collection is successful they will store it for when they need to transplant it back into my body.

20170907_085543 (720x1280)Preparation Regimen: After a couple weeks of rest, I will return to Stanford for a three-week stay. The first week I will receive 3 chemotherapy drugs in large doses that are administered three times over a six-day period.  Basically this will wipe out all of my white blood cells and hopefully all traces of the lymphoma. Because my immune system will be basically gone, I will need to stay in the hospital under observation for the whole three weeks.

Transplant: Then, at some point during my 3 week stay in the Stanford Hospital, my stored stem cells will be transplanted back into my blood. If they are not able to harvest stem cells from my own blood, we will have to look for a compatible donor. I am really praying that it does not come to that because it creates many new risks.

Follow Up: it will take several weeks for my blood counts to recover and for my body to heal from the preparation regimen and stem cell transplant. I will need to be seeing the doctor for at least 3 months afterward (doctor said maybe a year) for follow up to see how the transplant is working. The key to all this is to get clean stem cells from my own body. The doctor yesterday told us that if they can get the clean stem cells the odds of success are 70 to 80%. That sounds pretty good to me.

We arrived at Stanford about 12:15 for our 12:30 appointment. We missed lunch and had a protein bar in the waiting room. The consulting and blood draws took us until about 4:30. Again, we were very impressed with the 20170907_100559 (720x1280)time the doctors and nurses took with us and how they treated us as human beings not just patients. The social worker was especially helpful and is going to be helping us find housing for the two hospital stays and will also assist us with finances and issues with medical insurance. It's going to be a long hard road, but at least we have a good idea of what we're facing now.

So we headed out into 5 o’clock traffic, going through San Francisco and over the Bay Bridge, on our way back to El Dorado. By the time we got to Vallejo we were starving so we headed into Olive Garden for a nice dinner for the two of us. By the time we got back to El Dorado it was almost bedtime. It was a long day but I think it was very productive. Hopefully, we have our next two to three months planned out. As I said, this is a best case scenario. A lot of things can happen, but again we know these are in God's hands. I know a lot of people were praying for us yesterday. Thank you very much and we would ask that you continue in prayer as we head into this next phase of our cancer adventure. We appreciate your prayers and we will keep you informed on how it goes.

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