My time of just living each day doing what ever came to me was coming to an end. I was going into the hospital for some unknown amount of time and a much longer recovery period. I was told I was to be out of commission for a year, which seemed unreal to me.
Like anyone would be, I was very uneasy about all that was about to happen to me. The risks were great and the doctors let me know over and over. Basically, they were giving enough chemo and radiation to kill me and then they perform the transplant which hopefully works and goes on to save my life.
Doctors like to give patients plenty of statistics having to do with survival rates. To tell the truth, I tried not to listen to everything they say. I found it took me a week to recover after a meeting with a doctor, which was taking away from my hope. Ask anyone who has cancer, and they will say hope is the only thing that we have left!
I heard them say that I had a fifty per cent chance of surviving through the first year after the transplant. I was told that the whole basis of the transplant was to extend my life longer than a few years. Untreated, they said I had 16 months to live, so at the time 5 or 10 years extra sounded pretty good.
Everything was happening so fast. I didn’t know what to think. I still have trouble with the total body radiation I endured. I met with a doctor who explained all the complications that could occur later in life for me, courtesy of the radiation….
The doctor rattled off a whole list of potential physical ailments that I am at high risk for because of the radiation. This is so frustrating because there is not yet a cure. I would hate for there to be some remarkable advance in Multiple Myeloma research proving my treatment to be neanderthal.
What I have gone through can’t be reversed and I find that tough to swallow. I have put my life in the hands of a few doctors and can only hope they are up to date on all the latest treatments. It is my life, and researching my cancer is the job of my family and myself, as well as my doctors.
I entered the hospital on August 8, 2001 and it was a gorgeous summer day. I couldn’t bear to enter the hospital that day, but part of me wanted to get on with it. The other part of me wanted to hop on my motorbike with Katharine on the back and ride away.
I did get to fly an airplane that morning before I went in. Katharine’s father, who I had spent the last few months riding motorbikes with, had booked me an introductory flight to fly a small plane. We had a great time, but my mind was on the hospital so I don’t know if I fully appreciated it.
I don’t have much to say about the hospital experience. I was in there for a full month and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life. I handled the chemo very well and as disturbing as the radiation was, I dealt with that, too. I took on every chemical and drug they threw at me and my body handled things very well.
Don’t get me wrong, I felt terrible and could eat barely at all. My hair fell out about two weeks into my stand and I was quarantined to my room for 23 days. That was the hardest part, not be able to leave my room because my blood counts went to zero while they waited for my new bone marrow to graft.
The transplant itself was fairly anti-climactic. They brought in the donor’s marrow in a bag to be hung on my rack along with many medications. I had a Hickman line in my chest where I was receiving all my medications, chemo, and then my transplant. A doctor and nurse entered my room and hung my new marrow which was to take about 45 minutes to drip through. My mother was there, along with Katharine who watched it all drip through. I was heavily medicated but I still remember being very nervous, as were my mother and Katharine who played cards to pass the time.