The past two weeks has been a whirlwind of appointments and waiting. The outcome summary is that I’m medically in a good place for a successful stem cell transplant. Dr Clover, my local oncologist, and Dr Hayes-Lattin, head of the Stem Cell Transplant team at OHSU, both tell me I’m in remission due to the past 10 months of treatment (and, in my opinion, due to a lot of prayer on my behalf!). So the actual transplant has less heavy lifting to do to cleanse my bone marrow and blood of the cancerous cells.
Jean and I were in Portland earlier this week for lab work and to sign consent papers for the transplant. We came home to Bend Monday evening to prepare ourselves and the house for our absence for a few weeks. We leave Friday January 28 for OHSU, I get a COVID test on arrival Friday afternoon and if it’s negative, begin two days of chemo on Monday, January 31 and Tuesday, February 1. The actual Stem Cell Transplant will take place on Wednesday, February 2. That’s 02-02-2022. I’m not sure if there’s any significance in the date, but for us it’s a big step forward after a long time waiting!
Incidentally, days immediately prior to the transplant are “minus days” as in -2, -1. Transplant day is “day 0”. Subsequent days are “plus days” as in +1, +2, +3. Just thought you might like to know that.
The best-case scenario, time-wise, is that I’ll spend about two weeks (day -1 through day +14) in hospital at OHSU, then a few weeks in Gresham, at the home of our daughter Stephanie and her family, receiving any necessary outpatient treatment until my immune system is renewed enough for me to be released back into the wild. Then I’ll come home to Bend and begin my new life! We pray and hope that it will be a long season of full remission of the Multiple Myeloma cancer.
On January 20, I had my final appointment with my local oncologist, Dr Todd Clover prior to the transplant. After conversation and questions, as I prepared to leave the consult room, we shook hands and he said, “I’ll see you on the other side.” When he said it, it sounded right to me! When I got home, I had a new message in My Chart from Dr Clover. I have an appointment with him on April 7. That’s “on the other side.”
This Stem Cell Transplant has been kind of a long process for us. We first discussed it in May of 2021, then began moving ahead with the stem cell harvest in September for a transplant at the first of October. Then that was postponed due to all the ICU beds occupied by COVID patients. Now we’ve had the process moving again for a couple of weeks and it’s been a fresh opportunity to think about and acknowledge both the reward and the risks of the transplant treatment.
We feel so blessed to have the opportunity for the transplant, but there remain so many uncertainties between here and transplant day, even though it is only a week away. I just had a text message from the nurse coordinator that we’ll need to be in Portland earlier than expected for some last-minute lab work. Anyhow, suffice it to say that it still seems like we’re shooting at a moving target!
Psalm 23 has been both challenging and comforting for me as we’ve negotiated the twists and turns of the trail we’re on. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:1-6 NLT)
Dr Clover said, “I’ll see you on the other side” and made an appointment for me in April (on the other side).
Psalm 23:4 says “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” There’s definitely some dark places between here and where we’re going (the other side – where faith tells us there’s a season of living in full remission from the cancer) but the Lord, my shepherd, knows the way through those dark places and is not merely sending me through them, but will walk with me all the way through to the other side!
Tomorrow evening I’ll say goodbye to Colin, Melissa, Jude, and Zane when we have dinner at their house. I’ll say, “See you on the other side!” I’ll say goodbye to Jake the Desert Bone Dog. I’ll say, “See you on the other side, Jake!” Then when I check into the hospital, I’ll say goodbye to Philip, Stephanie, and Jesse. I’ll say, “See you on the other side!” Then Jean will accompany me to the hospital and will be the one person who can visit me during the time I’m in the hospital (COVID restrictions). She’ll be with me through the whole process.
So anyhow friends, I’m not sure how predictable my blog posts will be for the next few weeks, but please continue your prayers and we’ll keep you posted! I’ll see you on the other side!
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.