Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's been a while...

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but I sometimes lack the time and/or energy to get something written.  I decided to spend a little time this morning writing an update.

Reid slowly recovered after his last chemo.  This is a stronger chemo and has left him quite fatigued, but at least the nausea gradually subsided.  We thought he'd be having his second round of chemo by now, but his platelets are still too low in spite of a platelet transfusion on Thursday.  The Oncologist said that this isn't at all unusual and we'll just wait until they go up to a safe level for chemo.  He'll have more blood work on Tuesday and another appointment with the Oncologist.  They've got him scheduled for admission to the hospital on Tuesday, so I'm assuming that means the Oncologist is pretty certain the platelets will be up by then.

This has been a busy week with four days spent down at MD Anderson for various appointments.  He was seen in the Stem Cell Transplant Center and we all attended a mandatory class on transplant.  We learned that he'll spend approximately three to four weeks in the hospital and then he'll need a caretaker with him 24/7 for up to another 30 days once he's home.  We might have to rent a place down near the medical center since they're required to be within 30 minutes of the hospital for those 30 days and we're 45 minutes to an hour depending upon traffic.

In order to receive the transplant he must be in full remission.  He'll be receiving more intense chemo when he's admitted to the hospital for the transplant.  This hopefully will destroy all the cancer.  It will also destroy the blood forming cells and suppress his immune system.  Having the transplant makes it possible for him to receive these higher doses of chemotherapy than would otherwise be possible. 

The transplant he'll be receiving is called Autologous which means he'll be his own donor.  His stem cells will be collected, frozen and stored in a laboratory.  Then he'll receive those high doses of chemo to destroy any remaining cancer.  The stem cells are then reinfused and we wait for them to engraft.  The doctor explained that stem cells are like the seeds of the cells.  Once they're infused we wait for them to grow like seeds in a garden.  He assured us that they always grow.

Prior to transplant the stem cells will be mobilized for collection by injections that cause more of them to pour out from the bone marrow into the blood.  They'll then be separated from the blood using some kind of machine and collected in a bag and the rest of the blood returned to him.

You can probably find a much better explanation of all of this here.  My explanation might not be completely accurate, but it's the way I understand things right now.  We were given reading material and a CD, but haven't had a lot of time to absorb all the information yet.

We've decided to celebrate Christmas when Reid is feeling up to it.  The way things are looking now that might not be until February, but we'll wait and see.

We received a surprise last week when the florist delivered a decorated Norfolk Island Pine.  My friend Sherelyn had read that I might not have time to decorate for Christmas, so she sent us a decorated tree.  I stood at the door crying and the poor florist didn't know what to say.  Sherelyn will be glad to hear that we did finally bring a few things over from the storage shed and I plan to do some decorating this weekend.  Of course, it looks like our decorations will still be up in February.

Meanwhile, we took the dog to the emergency clinic late last night.  My sister's package arrived and it included a tin of Peppermint Bark from Williams and Sonoma.  In my wildest dreams I never imagined the dog being able to open a tin box, but Jim and I went out to dinner and when we got back the tin was open and the Peppermint Bark was gone.  I know not to let the animals get near chocolate, but I thought the Peppermint Bark was well protected in a metal tin.  Some of the other gifts had been torn open too, but I believe Sophie might have had help from the cats.  I think they were just playing with the paper.  Anyway, Sophie started vomiting and around midnight or so we decided to take her to the clinic.  Her heart rate was up a little, but not dangerously so, and she was given a shot to calm her stomach.  Never a dull moment.

I'd better go.  I have a lot I'd like to accomplish this weekend.  Wish me luck!


  1. Betty, thank you for the update. You are all in my prayers. Hugs, hope, and peace.

    Take care of you, too. You are so important in this equation.

  2. Wow, that description of a stem cell transplant is so amazing. I suppose renting the apartment will be inconvenient. Or will it make things easier? You'll have to move a bunch of stuff over.

  3. I do wish you luck and my thoughts are always with you and Reid, Betty. You didn't need the Sophie drama on top of everything! Here's to a happyt Christmas celebration for you all in February. Love from Sicily. xx

  4. Oh're such a wonderful sister.....

    My brother died over 20 years ago at age 50 from liver cancer. I'm so thrilled that there are so many new advances in cancer treatment.

    You and your brother are in my thoughts and prayers!

    So glad your dog is don't need anymore trauma in your life.

  5. Betty, all my good wishes are going your way. And you are right, it doesn't matter when you will celebrate Christmas!
    You are doing a great job of holding it together, and being there for your family.
    All the very best!

  6. I thought that was a really good explanation of the stem cell treatment process.
    I would never have thought a dog could open a tin, either!

  7. Good morning Betty.....
    Apologies on calling Reid your brother, rather than brain was out to lunch.

    Just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you all and praying for Reid and your family.


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