A Little About Transplants

It’s been awhile since I posted last, and so much has happened. I finished round 2, also known as Induction 2 a few weeks ago. That means I’m 1/3 of the way through the first part of the trial. It means that I’m completely done with the Induction phase. Yippee for completing something!! The next step in this part of the trial (TT4) is Transplant #1. The dreaded Transplant. This procedure makes me think horrible thoughts…horrible, dreaded and scary thoughts!

I go back to Arkansas in about 2 weeks to begin tests. There are way more tests than usual this time around. I will have the same MRIs, PETs, blood work, and central line placement, but we are adding several other things like lung function and cardiac studies. This is to make sure treatment is going as planned, but also to make sure that I’m healthy enough for transplant. That the procedure won’t cause me to kick the bucket. Ugh just thinking about it makes me nauseous.

After tests and line placement, I have a 250mg dose of a chemotherapy drug called Melphalan. To put this into perspective, I’ve been given a 25mg test dose twice. Both made me so sick that I have no memory of the three days following. The day after melphalan I receive my first of two (tandem) autologous stem cell transplants. I will get approximately 6 million of my own cells back. During the first round of the Induction phase back in February, the apheresis nurses were able to suck out 37.5 million of my own stem cells in a day and a half. I am so blessed. So SO SOO blessed. I have met many people who were only able to produce stem cells in the thousands. And it took them an entire week to do this. I will have enough stem cells for both transplants plus additional transplants in the future. I hope I will never need them, but that is a very real possibility and knowing that they are there gives me a great deal of comfort.

Speaking of stem cell transplants, you might remember a discussion I had with a nurse that I wrote about in my post, “Why Not Me”? That nurse, who I have become friends with, shared her story with me. She has a disease called Aplastic Anemia, which is kind of a cousin to Multiple Myeloma. Kind of. Sadly, Emily recently found out that she is no longer in remission. She will be receiving an Allogenic Stem Cell Transplant at MD Anderson in Houston in a few months. ‘Allogenic’ means someone else’s stem cells. Like me, Emily has been blessed in her transplant process. There are over 50 donors that are a perfect match for her. That doesn’t mean that things will be easy, it just means that they will be easier and she won’t have to wait long. Yes, just like a heart transplant, lung or liver transplant, there is a stem cell transplant donor list.

It breaks my heart that a friend has come out of remission for such an ugly disease. It breaks my heart every time I meet a patient in Arkansas and find out that they are not there for the first time. To find out that they came in for bi yearly or yearly testing, expecting to leave with confidence that their myeloma is still in remission, but actually leaving knowing that this devastating cancer is back; you can’t help but doubt. Everything about cancer makes even the strongest people doubt. People cannot grasp the feeling you get when you realize that it is more likely to kill you than not. Now, imagine having that feeling and having to WAIT for a transplant, knowing that it’s your only hope, and that you may never find a match. So here is the importance of that heavy tidbit: be a donor, people. Be someone’s match by being on the registry.

If you had the opportunity to save a life, would you?

Go to www.bethematch.org to find out what you can do.

I’ve added this website to my “Donations” page, as well as a link to Emily’s donation site. Please consider donating to her medical fund and praying for her treatment and recovery.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

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7 thoughts on “A Little About Transplants

  1. Oh, Stephanie, I hate that you are having to endure the preparation of something that is causing such scary thoughts. It would be so easy for me to say put it out of your mind or think of something else but it would be so thoughtless and uncaring as well. I will say that I will be one of the many praying for you, for your continued strength and endurance. You will make it through, my dear, sweet girl, as will your friend. The fact that you are so caring towards someone else in the midst of your own battle is such a testimony to your gracious, giving spirit.
    A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with lymphoma and I immediately directed him to your blog. You are a champion and a blessing.
    Much love,
    Valencia

  2. Stephanie,
    We continuously keep you, your family, your doctors and nurses and all those surrounding you in prayer. You are young, you are strong and you are very much loved. You are making an important impact on all who know you, all who come in contact with you and all who hear about you. You are not alone and are being used in amazing ways. You have heightened our awareness of many who endure difficult treatments and you have shown great courage in your battle. By repeatedly opening our eyes to others who are struggling, you teach us, by example, how to show grace. Thank-you for being open and thank-you for being caring. May the Lord grant you peace, love and rest and when you return to Arkansas, may he give you the strength, endurance and perseverance to win this battle.
    Love you,
    J and many others.

    So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

    Isaiah 41:10

  3. Hi Stephanie,

    We prayed for you last night in our ladies class at church and you are continuously in my prayers as well as the prayers of many, many people. God is good and I know He is wrapping His arms of protection around you. While my heart aches for you and that you have to suffer through this, I continue to be amazed and inspired by your courage and strength. About two years ago I registered on “Be The Match” during a blood drive at work. It was so easy and I too thought, “How can I not do this if something so simple might save someone else’s life?” I hope someday I can be that blessing to someone but, even if I never match with a person in need, just knowing I might is a fantastic feeling!

    You, your family, and your team of health care providers will continue to be in my prayers daily.

    Much love to you!

    John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

  4. Hey Stephanie,

    I pray for you and my uncle everyday at the same time since you are both fighting the same battle. He was supposed to finish treatment in June but they are extending it to December, this is his second time battling this but he still is nothing but positive and uplifting just like yourself. I know in my heart that you both will come out on top. God Bless you and your family. ♡

  5. Stephanie,
    Your journey thus far has been difficult at best, but you have been such an inspiration to so many. We are all so blessed to have you in our lives. Your transplant marks the first day of your new life battling Multiple Myeloma, a rebirth, a new birthday to celebrate life. I know from watching you undergo your treatments that you will face this treatment with the incredible courage you have, embrace and conquer it. God’s grace will be with you at all times. Myself and the rest of your loving family and friends will be at your side physically and in loving prayer. It is my prayer that knowing this will relieve you, as well as me and your family, of fear and replace it with everlasting faith and hope. My love for you is immeasurable. Let’s mark our calendars on June 9th in celebration of your new birth and look forward to celebrating for many years to come. I love you!

    Mom

  6. Steph, journeys that are worth taking are never easy. It is through challenges and heart aches that we become better people. You have shown this time and time again. The future treatments although scary and painful are taking you to your goal that of being cancer free and able to continue your life sharing with others your love for God. When I pray for you and your family, I include your medical team. They need to remain positive and channel this to you so you can find strength and the fortitude to endure these treatments. I am rambling but my point is don’t doubt, leave it to God, he is in control and will see you through this. You are always in my thoughts day and night. We love you very much. Marcia

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