After thinking for months about the day I would be admitted to the Stanford Cancer Center for my bone marrow transplant, it has finally arrived! I feel as if I’m going on a long journey into the unknown, and I am. Yet at the same time, I am confident that I will be cured, and I’m determined to maintain my positive attitude. (If I forget, please remind me!)
It’s a sunny beautiful Spring day in Palo Alto, and I’m feeling calm and optimistic. It’s taken me months to develop this sense of peace and acceptance around the bone marrow transplant. At first I was absolutely terrified – but now I know that this treatment is THE route to the cure and I need to “get through this” to come out the other side. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It is helpful to I know that I am not alone – I am so grateful to be held in the hands and hearts of my family, friends, the Stanford staff, my colleagues and the Great Spirit. I really feel all of your positive energy and prayers and it helps – thank you!
Here are the key dates for my scheduled treatments. Once these treatments are administered over the next eight days, it’s all about managing my recovery.
- March 10 (yesterday): Have the catheter inserted in my chest (this is the port through which the doctors and nurses deliver chemotherapy, hydration, IV antibiotics, blood transfusions, and my bone marrow transplant). The procedure went well. I’m just a little sore.
- March 11 (today): Admitted to Stanford Cancer Center – Unit E1. I will start out with a roommate and then be moved to my own room when my white blood cells drop further.
- March 12 – 15: Receive Busulfan chemotherapy for four days. (The two types of chemo suppress my immune system and destroy any remaining leukemia cells, so that I’m ready to receive the stem cell transplant from the new donor).
- March 16-17: Receive Cytoxan chemotherapy for two days.
- March 16-18: Receive the drug US-ATG-F (or the placebo) for three days. It was my choice to take part in phase III clinical trial for preventing chronic graft versus host disease in bone marrow transplant patients. This is a double blind study so I won’t officially know if I get the drug or the placebo, but if I develop a fever on one of the days that I receive the medicine, it is likely that I received US-ATG-F. There have been promising results in some of the earlier studies.
- March 19: Transplant day (also called Day Zero). This is the day that I receive the stem cells from my donor. I’m excited that my doctor is calling my donor the “perfect match” – he has a 10/10 tissue typing that matches mine and is a 32-year old international male with blood type O. Within 14-21 days of the transplant, the donor cells will “engraph” into my body, and start to make healthy bone marrow and blood production. Eventually, I will take on the blood type and immune system of my donor.
- About 3-4 weeks after Day Zero: Leave the hospital but live locally near Stanford for 90-100 days so at first I can have daily appointments at Stanford. My mom and I will be staying in a lovely townhouse while the family who lives there is in China. Hey, my donor and I are also the same Chinese astrology sign – the rooster! Must be the perfect match!
Thank you in advance for continuing to send positive energy for me to go through this healing journey with as much ease and grace as possible, and please see me coming through as healthier than ever this year.
Overall, I see this entire process as a miracle! I will be able to live a healthy life thanks to the generosity of a stem cell donor who doesn’t even know me, the skills of the Stanford medical team, years of science, and the love and support of my family and friends. For all this, I have tremendous gratitude. Onwards on the journey toward the cure!