Saturday, January 10, 2009

New schedule

After several weeks of working on getting my strength back and letting my body heal from the first round of chemo, I am back in active treatment. Yesterday I had my first round of chemo in preparation for my stem cell transplant. The schedule for the next few weeks is as follows:

· Friday 1/9/09 - Chemo infusion#1
· Monday 1/12/09 - Chemo infusion #2
· Tuesday 1/13/09 – Stem cell transplant
· Wednesday 1/14/09 - ?? Recovery

What I have left out of this seemingly simple little schedule is the extensive list of oral medications and injections that go along with the chemical infusions. I won’t bore you with the details but let’s just say I am surprised that I don’t glow in the dark.

The recovery portion of the stem cell transplant has two critical milestones associated with it. The first is the recovery of my immune system. After this round of chemo I will be neutropenic (no immune system to speak of) as I was with the first round, however, this round of chemo is a much higher dose than the previous one so the stem cells in my marrow are also destroyed along with the white cells in my blood. That is where the second critical milestone comes in. It is called engraftment. Engraftment is when the new stem cells are taken into the bone marrow and begin making new cells on their own. To be “engrafted” is when new cells are being created at a specified level for three consecutive days. Reaching both milestones, no longer neutropenic and fully engrafted, should take about 8 to 12 days. Then it is just a matter of getting me healthy enough to do it again in about eight weeks.

One concern that came to my mind when I first saw this schedule was how quickly the stem cell transplant followed the last chemical infusion. With the high dose chemo going into my system only the day before, what would prevent the stems cells from being destroyed along with everything else? The answer is that even though it is a very high dose of chemo it has very short half life. So as I understand it the chemo does its job quickly and then dissipates from your system rapidly, the end result being a reduced time between killing off the bad guys and bringing in the good guys.

As you probably have already guessed this means we are back in isolation for at least the next two to three weeks. I will let you know when I get the OK from the Doctor to have visitors again.



thehalvs said...

Too bad you don't get to glow in the dark. My boys would be seriously impessed. Good luck to both of you. As always, our prayers are with you.


Phat Bri said...

Good luck once again; we are thinking of you and praying for you too.


The Winchester's said...

I thought Engraftment was what I did on the inside of your mini-van,I still feel bad about that. Love ya both, thinking and praying often. Pee-Dub.

itcc said...

Brother Stevens gave our lesson in Gospel Doctrine today. He mentioned how caring and dedicated the people at the Huntsman Center are and it made me think of the both of you. My best to you in your new round of treatment.

lehi petersens said...

glow in the dark would be rather interesting i have to agree with jenn. good luck! i saw a book of scott hamilton's. it is entitled the great eight: how to be happy (even when you have every reason to be miserable). thought you might have some time on your hands for a good read. scott hamilton has always been one of my favorite celebrities. we will be continuing to pray for you this week. nat :-)

Ann said...

Just wanted to let you know we are hoping for a little sunshine in your eventful day. You are in our thoughts and prayers, as always.
Love you both - Ann and Paul

the Taylors said...

I also agree with Jenn - my kids would love to see you glowing in the dark. Good luck and know that we have you in our prayers constantly.
Love to you both -
Kristen and Matt

the kings said...

Dad -
So glad you are over the ice torture. On to the transplant party today!
Love and Hugs from the whole family!
- Kelly

lehi petersens said...

can't help but have you and lynn on my mind today! hope all went well and you are on to a great recovery period. stay strong!
nat :-)

Charlie said...

We're thinking of you and hope all is going as planned. Please let us know if you need anything. You are in our prayers. Love, The Cherry Lane Ward Relief Society

Cindy said...

Sounds like a pretty tough schedule. But that is what is great about you. You are one tough cookie. Thanks for saying all those nice things about Lynn... She is great but so are you and together you are the best. You are in our prayers always. Love Jim and Cindy
P.S. Maybe before it is all over you will glow in the dark. How cool would that be.

Fred G said...

Love following your blog Steve. You've got a following of great family and friends. We all miss you here at work of course. Your posts are inspiring and help me keep things in perspective. Thanks!