About a year ago I wrote about my Mom’s diagnosis with the cancer Multiple Myeloma. Multiple myeloma plasma cells are found in the bone marrow. It is a cancer that involves the immune system. The cancerous plasma cells, or myeloma cells, rarely enter the blood stream. She did her rounds of chemo from May-September. She did very well, and didn’t have any of the major side effects. Many people were shocked and amazed when they saw her because she looked so good. My Mom is such a strong lady I am inspired by her every day. She never complained, never pitied herself, and never stopped living her life to the fullest. The chemo worked to an extent but did make the cancer go away completely.
Thus, she will be undergoing a stem cell transplant as the next step in her treatment. The transplant procedure allows the patient to receive high doses of chemotherapy to kill more myeloma cells. This therapy is so potent that it destroys all of the bone marrow. Without bone marrow, the body is unable to manufacture blood cells needed to carry oxygen, help blood clot, and defend against infection (essentially leaving you without an immune system). Therefore, a stem cell transplant replaces the destroyed marrow, rescuing the patient from the effects of high-dose chemotherapy. My Mom received a surgical catheter implant for the collection of stem cells on the first of April. Thereafter for 10 days in early April, she was injected with an advanced medication called Neuprogen to help stimulate and produce stem cells on an outpatient basis. The entire week of 4/11 she was interned for 4 hours of stem cell collection. Now that she has collected all the necessary cells for transplant, (along with an extra batch that is frozen in the event of a future need) she will be hospitalized on 4/29/11 for 3 weeks. She will receive intensive chemotherapy and the collected cells will be transplanted at City of Hope Hospital. City of Hope is one of the best hospitals and I am so glad that she will be undergoing her treatment there. In the nearly 35 years since City of Hope physicians performed one of the nation’s first successful bone marrow transplants, the institution has performed over 10,000 transplants. This process is going to be difficult and she will be very fragile. On average, patients take 3 to 6 months to recover from a transplant. By this time, the immune system will once again fight infections because the bone marrow is producing healthy blood cells. Hair will grow back, but the taste buds might still be a little off. It can take as long as a year to recover normal functioning. There will be bad days and good days, and we will try to take one day at a time. So, I would like to thank all of you for your prayers and kind words about my Mother. I will be absent for a while, I will post when I can but my first priority is my Mom.
I would also like to say that if you're of age, able, and willing, please consider donating blood with the American Red Cross and getting tested as a bone marrow donor with the National Bone Marrow Registry at: bethematch (dot) com. Both are wonderful organizations that have made a huge impact on my family. Luckily, my Mom was able to gather enough of her own cells for the transplant (but there are many who cannot). Donating blood and marrow will not have any lasting effects on you, but it can make all the difference to someone else.