Hey Friends, It’s been more than a month since I posted an update on my health, cancer treatment, and Stem Cell Transplant! So here’s some of what’s happened since the last post:
Today is Day +117 since the SCT. My most recent appointment with my local oncologist was on Thursday, May 5 and on Monday, May 23 I had a video follow-up appointment with the doctor who oversaw my transplant at OHSU. This month I’ve had the full range of lab work and another bone marrow biopsy and all the results show that my cancer is in full remission!
As you’re probably aware, the Stem Cell Transplant isn’t a “quick fix”, but knowing that and keeping that foremost in mind aren’t the same thing. Before the STC, I had to semi-isolate and wear a mask everywhere I went to avoid getting infected with COVID and losing out on the transplant. Now I have to isolate even more and wear an N95 mask everywhere I go to avoid infections from colds, flu, leaf mold, dust particles, you name it.
Before the STC, my immune system was compromised, mostly by the cancer treatment medications. But I still had the benefit of all the work my body had done through the years and all the vaccinations I’d had and the disease resistance I’d built up through a lifetime. Now I have none of that. My COVID vaccinations are gone, along with flu shots, shingles vaccine, measles, mumps, and all the other childhood disease inoculations. But here’s the good news on the immunization front: I can start a two-year process of getting re-vaccinated with all those childhood vaccinations and immunities we all take for granted! Big news: I just got the first of my COVID re-vaccinations!
Anyhow, the cancer is in remission! I’m still mostly isolating as my immune system rebuilds but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m on a maintenance treatment consisting of a reduced daily dose of one of the three cancer drugs I have been taking for treatment for the past year. Side effects of the maintenance treatment are minimal so far. When I was first diagnosed with Stage 2 Multiple Myeloma in March 2021, the longevity prognosis was 2 to 5 years. Here we are a year later after a Stem Cell Transplant and the prognosis is 7 to 10 years! I love that kind of math!
My family and I are so thankful for everything that’s happened, for all the prayers and support and encouragement from so many caring people! We’re so thankful for the medical care from my team at St Charles Oncology in Bend and at Knight Cancer Center at OHSU! We’re so thankful to God for healing and health and for every day God gives! I’ve known this truth for ten years but I know it in an even stronger and deeper way now, Every day is a gift from God!
Are there lessons for me in all this? You bet there are! One lesson is that this is a process! Last month’s update was all about me learning to accept, for the 100th time that it’s all a process!
My beard and mustache are growing back after being destroyed by the chemo. My hair, what there is of it, is growing back. That’s a process. Hard to tell any difference from one day to the next, but from one month to the next it’s clear to see.
I mentioned this a couple of months ago, but I’m still learning its lessons. Our car was damaged in a fender-bender accident (those should be called “plastic breaker” accidents now, right?) last November and it took over two months to get it into the body shop. Once it was in the body shop it took five weeks to get it repaired because they couldn’t get the parts it needed.
On the other hand:
- My grandsons Jude and Zane helped me patch it together with bolts and screws and high strength duct tape and we drove it a couple thousand miles while waiting for the body shop repair.
- Then, once it was in for repair, the insurance company paid for a rental car five years newer than my Subie while we waited for the repair to be completed.
- The point is, even though the whole car fixing process took over three months, we were never without adequate transportation and it all worked out just fine.
But the thing that reminds me I still have a lot of growing up to do (Remember: aging is mandatory, maturing is optional!) is how much time I spent stressing and feeling otherwise agitated during the process.
Some days I feel stuck! In those moments, it’s easy to be frustrated that I can’t (yet) go where I want to go and do what I want to do. And it’s harder to keep focused on the fact that if I successfully navigate the first three months (done), then the first six months (working on it), then the first year post-transplant, God’s wonderful provision of healing and health care has added the potential of seven to ten years or more to my lifespan.
Do you feel like you’re stuck? Like you’re waiting for this big thing that’s going to happen at some known or anticipated date in the future and you’re just stuck in limbo until it happens? Don’t miss the gift you have of today, the gift you had of yesterday, and the gift of all the days between now and the magic moment you’re waiting for!
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, please leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, I’d love for you to click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.