Updated: Apr 19
For many reading this blog you're traveled with me every step of the way - many of you I know and a number of you I don't. That really doesn't matter because at the end of the day all that really matters is how this journey is concluding. I've said this before but it bears repeating - your outpouring of love and support has made all the difference.
As you know, the final step in my medical treatment involved a 7th and final round of Chemo known as a "consolidation round" and then an actual stem cell transplant. Both of these milestones occurred over the past month.
I've now been home one week. Looking back, the word that best describes this final phase of my treatment was "challenging". I can truly say that the final round of Chemo was the most difficult thing I've ever encountered in my life. The medical team had warned me that they would be "taking me to the brink" but, given how well things had gone until now, I really didn't believe them - I do now. I developed thrush in my mouth, mucositis along with lesions that extended down my esophagus and G.I. track. These ailments made it nearly impossible to swallow or speak for 10 days. I was also on high powered pain meds that resulted in me not knowing what day it was - let alone the time.
Four days after the Chemo was completed I underwent the stem cell transplant. My doctors call March 30th my new birthday because this is the day the stem cell transplant was administered and represents the first day of the rest of my life. This is where the story line changes from "challenging" to "miraculous" - this is not my word but the word the doctors have used to describe my progress post stem cell.
The day after the stem cell transplant, my platelet count was zero. This was the case for five days. On the sixth day that was an increase to 5,000. The following day the count grew to 21,000 and then it held at 19,000 for the remainder of the week. Then, on day eleven, the count increased to 42,000 which thrilled the medical team - this also meant that I got to go home since the minimum threshold for discharge is 40,000. Three days later, my platelet count had exploded to 165,000 which astounded the medical team! To put this in perspective, a "healthy" person's platelet count ranges from 140,000 on the low end up to 400,000.
I'll be in strict quarantine for the next several months until I get my immunizations re-administered etc. I'll be able to begin reentering society around 4 months post transplant. During this time my world will continue to be very small but that's ok - I'm in remission and not in the hospital.
As you've read this, you may think, "wow, Christie has been really "brave" or "strong" to have endured this ordeal. In and of myself I'm none of these things because the grace and strength that has sustained me comes from my loving Savior who has carried me the entire time. I cannot fathom having endured this without Him or in my own strength. Greg, my family and close friends have provided a level of comfort and support but they're a distant second.
To bring the curtain down on this chapter, if you have any questions or if you'd like to learn more about my experience please call me at 817-932-2339 or Greg at 817-201-1894. Our emails are firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Both of us would consider it a privilege to help you or a loved one in any way possible. Or, if you know of someone that has been diagnosed with cancer or that is dealing with a serious illness, please have them reach out. I certainly don't have all the answers but do intend to spend the remainder of my days "paying it forward".
...Freely you have received - freely give... Matthew 10:8...