The Time Has ComePosted: June 11, 2014
“You raze the old to raise the new.”
― Justina Chen, North of Beautiful
In six hours, I will be admitted to Winship Cancer Institute to begin a 6-day regimen of intensive chemotherapy. The intention is to destroy all of my damaged bone marrow so I can receive a transplant. The countdown is measured from day -6 to transplant day 0. In hospital speak, when my whole immune system is reset, I will have a new birthday.
My donor is enduring a five-day regimen of injections to increase her production of stem cells and force the stem cells out of the marrow and into the bloodstream. On the day of the transplant, she will be hooked up to a machine like a dialysis machine. Blood will flow out of one arm through the machine which will “harvest” the stem cells and the remaining blood will be put back into the other arm. This is about a 6-8 hour process for the donor. The stem cells will be stored in a bag very much like a regular unit of blood. Since the donor is outside of the USA, they will put the harvested cells on a flight to Atlanta, and a courier will transport them to the hospital. This precious lifeblood will need to be transplanted into me within 72 hours.
The hope is that the new stem cells will take hold within 30 days and begin to form new bone marrow within my bones. About that point, I will begin to face “rejection” issues — “graft vs host”. Some of this effect is good — the immunity effect of the new “graft” will hopefully destroy any remaining damaged bone marrow and leukemia cells.
I’ll remain hospitalized until my new stem cells engraft and begin multiplying. Needless to say, I am very apprehensive about all this, but at least we are moving forward now.