Hello. Several of you have asked for an update on my progress - thanks so much for inquiring!!!
The first 6 rounds of chemo have been completed. I'm now at home recovering for approximately 6 weeks. It's true that successive rounds of chemo begin to "take a cumulative toll' - it has taken longer to bounce back from each round and I'm dealing with the daily challenge of nausea, headaches, fatigue and severe bone pain due to injections designed to stimulate my stem cell production.
Upon admission [sometime around March 22nd] for my transplant procedure, I'll have a seventh and final round of chemo known as the consolidation round. This round will be the most intense of all since the protocol calls for 5 straight days of chemo. Assuming no complications, I'll then have my stem cell transplant. My entire hospital stay is expected to be around 21 days. Prior to all of this happening, several things must occur:
* Between March 1-5, I'll have the all important PET scan, MRI and additional testing. I must be declared "in remission" before the transplant procedure can move forward;
* On March 2nd I'll meet with the transplant team for the first time - they will be taking over from Dr. Awan;
* On March 9th I'll meet with Dr. Awan and the transplant team to review the test results from the previous week;
* From March 11-14 I'll receive daily injections of Neupogen which are designed to kick my stem cell production into overdrive;
* From March 15-18 the stem cells will be harvested and stored in advance of the procedure.
For anyone interested in learning a little more about stem cell transplants, I've included a link below:
Upon leaving the hospital [sometime around April 10th] the road to permanent recovery begins. My immune system will be like that of a newborn and I'll have to have all vaccinations re-administered and will still have limited contact with "the outside world". This means I'll remain largely house bound for an additional 6-7 months. By the fall [roughly one year after having been diagnosed] my return to normalcy should be well underway.
The next blog you'll see will be upon my return home from the hospital. Until then, thanks again for your support, prayers and friendship. I don't have words to convey how much your support means and how thankful I am for it!