I had my appointment at the Royal Liverpool Hospital today. I now have more details about my transplant and the timescales and process that I will be going through.
Without going into the fine details etc the process will be:
- Finish the Cycle I am currently on. – Ends 7 April
- Wait approx 6 weeks
- Start Extract process (more details below) 14 May
- Wait a couple of weeks after extract
- Start Stem Cell insertion (month in hospital) June.
The waiting after the Cycle is to make sure that my bone marrow isn’t contaminated and is the best it can be before extracting.
The extraction isn’t as I thought it was going to be. I did think I was going to have my hip drilled into again and then they suck out the bone marrow from there. The Professor explained that isn’t how they do it anymore. They used to give people a general anaesthetic and drill into both hips and suck out the bone marrow until they have about a litre of bone marrow. Now they use a method of drugs that releases the bone marrow into the blood stream and then via a machine similar to a kidney dialysis the blood is passed through and the marrow harvested. To get to this stage though take about 7 to 10 days of other drugs. A high dose of chemo followed by the other drugs to release marrow into the blood stream monitored every other day until there is enough in the blood. This is when I will probably lose my hair, prior to going into hospital. So although it takes longer to harvest the stem cells, I personally would rather have this than go through the pain I had the first time I had the sample of marrow taken from my hip at the start (very painful) saying that, I would have been asleep this time!
The worst part comes in June or there about. It might be earlier, depending on how it goes. They explained the risks involved and said that there is a 3% chance that I could die during the transplant. I like to think of it as a 97% chance of success, which sounds much better.
I will be in isolation and need to make sure that nobody comes to visit with any infections as my immune system will be non existent. If I do catch something, then I am like to be part of that 3% which I would like to avoid if at all possible!
I feel a bit happier now knowing the next step and timescales I hate not being able to plan ahead or at least know what is coming. He went over my life expectancy details again and said that the last statistics they have were that life expectancy is on average about 5 years, although that is prior to the use of the new drugs including Thalidomide. So the statistics are out of date and many people live a lot longer than that some 10 or more years. Fingers crossed I’m one of them. I’m thinking about taking some long term loans out ….. now where is that brochure for the Ferrari.
Looking on the bright side – at least I don’t have terminal cancer. I do have years rather than months or weeks. was that really on the bright side.
If you have any questions, just ask and I will be happy to answer them, as long as they are related to this blog post and not general ones like ‘what are the winning lottery numbers’.