Transplant details and timeline

There’s only 6 days left to admission.  I am feeling very anxious, and very scared (totally freaked out, that is).  It feels like I’m running out of time.  I know I may not make it out of this alive.  But, the ONLY way to continue is to stay positive.  I will WILL myself to survive.  And God will give me strength.  I will demand it of Him.

Most of the errands that needed to be done have been done.  I was not able to get to some things – those things will just need to be left undone for now.  I cannot stress myself out over the next few days to try to finish everything.  I have to stay sane and healthy.  So, over the next few days, I’ll be packing, finishing up some things at home, and have dinner with my family one last time before admission.

Hickman Line

Hickman Line

On Tuesday, April 16, I’ll be headed to the Toronto General Hospital to get my Hickman Line, or central venous catheter, put in.  The Hickman Line will be inserted under local anesthetic into a vein on my chest and will remain in place for at least several months.  It is used for the infusion of the donor stem cells, chemotherapy drugs, blood products, antibiotics, and intravenous (IV) fluids, as well as for the withdrawal of blood for blood tests.  They tell me this will be a much-loved “accessory” as I will not be poked with a needle several times a day for various procedures.

On Wednesday, April 17, I will be officially admitted to the hospital.  But once I “check-in”, I can leave to have dinner and come back before bedtime.  The fun begins the day after, as follows:

April 18 – chemo day 1
April 19 – chemo day 2
April 20 – chemo day 3
April 21 – chemo day 4
April 22 – radiation day
April 23 or 24 – transplant day

The doctor told me that the chemo will be a “cocktail” of Fludarabine and Busulfan and it is 3 – 10 times as toxic as “normal” chemo.  The radiation will be given in 2 doses on radiation day, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon.  It’s a low-dose radiation, compared to doses used to treat other cancers.  Apparently, this conditioning regimen is standard protocol for patients my age undergoing a bone marrow transplant at PMH.  The purpose of this regimen is to try to kill me (i.e., my bone marrow and my leukemia cells).  Then, they try to “rescue” me by infusing my donor’s stem cells into my body. 

After the stem cell infusion, there’s not much left to do but hope and pray that my body accepts the donor stem cells and that the donor stem cells learn to become my stem cells and produce normal bone marrow and blood in my body.  There are many things that could go wrong, such as rejection, infections, graft vs. host disease, organ failure, etc.  Suffice it to say that it’s gonna be a tough uphill battle for the next few months. 

Of course, I’m hoping to be able to post on a regular basis in the next few weeks, but from what I hear from those who have been there before me, it may not be possible.  They tell me that the chemo and radiation affects everyone differently, and some patients will be so sick that they literally black out.  Other patients temporarily lose control of their mind, so they may do, say or write things (such as this blog) that are totally out of character for them.  I hope that doesn’t happen to me but you never know, so I do apologize before-hand!

So, I am expecting to be discharged mid to end of May.  I am really hoping that this will happen cause I’d like to celebrate Daniel’s birthday and our 10th wedding anniversary at home.

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3 Responses to Transplant details and timeline

  1. Hey Winnie,
    Nice post, honest, rational and POSITIVE!! YAY I felt like my life was in suspended animation while waiting for my admit date. It seems to take forever, but then time does fly. Sent your package yesterday, You should see it VERY soon, so be sure and check your porch daily!!! The paper in the bottom that says “don’t open until you get your cells back” is NOT to be opened until your RE-birthday..your hubby can take care of it. 🙂 Sending tons of good thoughts, many prayers and lots of love from Lubbock, See you in chat!

  2. Helen williams says:

    Hi Winnie.been thinking of you.I do hope youre ok and grateful of the blog you are writing.Youre family sound supportive.Take

  3. Sandy says:

    Love you Winnie. Your prayer warrior Sandy. Can’t wait for you to win this battle. I’ll give you a BIG hug when you’re ready for me!

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