My cancer adventures continue starting tomorrow when I’m admitted to a local hospital in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. I’ll be receiving the stem cells from an unknown and unrelated donor as unfortunately neither of my sisters were a match.
Before I get the transplant however, they will be giving me yet more chemotherapy in an attempt to kill off any remaining cancer cells. After that they have to dose me with significant amounts of radiation split up over 4 days in order to kill off my existing bone marrow, making room for the donated cells. The radiation unfortunately can have some pretty serious long term side effects such as infertility but thankfully I don’t want kids.
May 5th will be the big day, the day when I receive the new stem cells via an IV. I’m told it’ll be uneventful but that I’ll feel like crap for weeks afterwards due to the chemo and radiation catching up with me, plus all of the drugs that they’ll have me on to suppress my new immune system so that it can get used to my body. I’ll be spending most of May in the hospital recovering.
Once I get out, I’ll still have a long journey ahead of me. For the 100 days following my release from the hospital, I’ll require 24/7 supervision (I can never be left alone). My amazing mom has stepped up to do this for me and to take me to my multiple doctor visits each week. As I’ll still have a compromised immune system, I’ll have to be really careful and there will be many things that I won’t be able to do, even things as simple as preparing my own meals. I’ll have to wear a mask whenever I go outside and I’ll have to avoid large groups.
On the bright side though, all of this should be the beginning of the end of my main cancer treatment. Life should mostly return to normal by this fall or next year, although there will be lasting impacts to me for the rest of my life. For example I’ll have to avoid unprotected sun exposure as much as possible as sunburns could trigger a graft-versus-host occurrence, even years and years down the road. That certainly sucks as one of my favorite things to do is to drive my convertible but having to deal with these complications is much better than the cancer alternative!