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A Big New Treatment is Approaching at Full Throttle

by Tom on February 25th, 2010

And as the first three methotrexate treatments went, so did the fourth. Once more I checked into the hospital on a Monday and then checked out on Thursday.

This time I wanted to do everything I could to avoid suffering through the joint pain on Saturday morning. My lizard brain considered trying to stay in the hospital a few extra days (or checking into Extended Observation) to be somewhere that had IV pain medication available.

My rational brain said this was silly. Checking into an expensive room for a night to avoid a few hours of pain seemed excessive. And my rational brain won, as it often does.

Besides, the pain showed up a day early. Friday morning my knees and ankles hurt like the dickens for a few hours. Engage opiates! And ibuprofen! I got up and read stuff for a few hours, and eventually (after an hour or two) the pain subsided enough for me to go back to sleep.

I did the same thing on Saturday, and on Sunday. That would’ve been a lot of days in the hospital!

I’m glad that’s done with.

Next we scheduled an appointment with a transplant specialist doctor at the SCCA to see what she recommended as the next step. Apparently the speed with which the lymphoma asserted itself in my CNS suggests that we ought to do a stem-cell transplant.

My case was discussed by a bunch of well-regarded doctors at the SCCA, and the consensus was that I ought to do an autologous stem-cell transplant.

This is a biblical-flood sort of treatment. When we collected the blood stem-cells back in November, that was us preparing am ark. Now we’ll irradiate my entire body and fill it with a crazy amount of chemo, in a stage known as “conditioning”. This will hopefully kill off any remaining individual lymphoma cells. Unfortunately it also kills offy bone marrow (and along with it, my body’s ability to produce new blood cells).

A few days later they give back my collected stem cells and my body starts to rebuild. The stem cells find their way to my bones and start producing the cells that make up bone marrow.

As part of this, I think I’ll lose a lot of the immunities my body has built up over the year. We’re really hitting the reset button!

There’s one additional question to be answered: there wasn’t a solid consensus among the SCCA doctors on whether or not to recommend extra radiation focused on my brain and spine. Lymphoma in the brain can be sneaky (as we’ve found), and am aggressive approach is more likely to get it all.

This can, however, cause damage to healthy brain tissue. Possible decreases in memory strength, among other undesireable things.

I need to decide soon, but I’m leaning toward going for it. The goal of a treatment like this is a cure, and I want to do everything I can to get there.

From → Treatment Phase

  1. Lauren permalink

    So when you’re in the hospital for this Noah’s Ark treatment, can we come visit you, or is that not allowed? I would kinda guess it’s not, if you have no immune system.

  2. Tom permalink

    Good question Lauren; we asked them about that yesterday.

    It sounds like the plan is to do everything outpatient, unless my blood counts get too low or I get sick.

    There will be a period in the beginning where I need to be a hermit (probably a few weeks). After that, visitors should be A-OK as long as we’re all washing our hands a bunch!

  3. Lauren permalink

    it’s always the cooties.

  4. Lauren permalink

    I mean, “Oy with the cooties already!” Jana will interpret.

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