Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

At Long Last first infusion of SGN-35! (and those are sunglasses not Mickey Mouse ears on my head).

All went well on Thursday. Fortunately, I didn't have any adverse reactions to the drug. I did, however, have a very nice nurse who made my first treatment at the Agency a pleasant experience (despite all my visits to the BCCA, I've never actually had chemo there).

Currently, I'm still very tired from the previous coughing and anemia; my heart rate goes postal if I over-exert myself (too bad about that laundry). Regardless, I am just so happy to finally be at this point and am full of hope.

If all goes according to plan, I will receive infusions of the SGN-35 every three weeks, and should have a PET scan 6-8 weeks from now.

I so appreciate all your messages of love and support, and roll out the welcome mat for more "peaceful, killing thoughts" sent to the tumour cells (thanks for that one, Martha!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009


After more than seven and a half months of waiting, I will be having my first infusion of SGN-35 today at 3 pm. I sincerely hope there is not an electrical storm as, after all it has taken to get to this point, I am a little leery of being struck by lightening on my way to the clinic.

That said, when I think about what it would feel like six weeks from now to have a scan that shows the areas of disease in my body shrinking instead of growing, what it would be like to one day read the words "no evidence of disease," it makes me weep.

My intention and greatest hope is that this drug will be able to accomplish what has not yet been possible for me and others with refractory disease - remission.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

News from Brew Creek

Some of you will remember a post I wrote back in March about a little evergreen I call Pint. He lives on the edge of Brew Creek near Whistler where I have attended several healing retreats with the Callanish Society. The team just returned from their 47th retreat last week and they had some exciting news for me.

Not only has Pint grown...

He has some new tenants!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm starting to feel like the girl who cried wolf...

The start of the trial has been bumped, again, to next Thursday the 21st. There is apparently still difficulty getting the drug to Canada.

To my knowledge, I will be the first person living in Canada to receive this drug, so it is not surprising that it is taking a while to get things sorted. Actually, I'm not unhappy to have another week to recover from the various procedures/events of the last month. I have literally put everything else on hold in order to focus on conserving my energy, recovering my stamina and making my diet even more nutritious than usual.

Today's menu included plain yogurt and stewed prunes for breakfast (I am not having another emergency enema, thank you very much), a chicken and veggie stirfry (thanks B) for lunch, a plate of raw veggies for a snack, loads of green tea and a Vega smoothie for another snack. Dinner, in the oven now, will be lemon sole, sauteed kale and steamed yams.

Of course, I am only telling you this to assuage my guilt over last week's chicken-nugget-Haagan Dazs-two-bags-of cheezies-in-a-day debacle.

Monday, May 11, 2009

That's Over With

So, I forgot to mention in my last post that I made it through my bone marrow biopsy last week.

As it was not possible to use conscious sedation for this procedure like they did in Houston, and my previous experience without it was rather grim, I was all for the use of any and all other narcotics. However, despite two Ativan and several shots of morphine, I seem to have the drug resistance of an elephant and still felt way too conscious.

So as the very nice doctor inserted the needle in my back to freeze it and said, "Ok, small mosquito bite now..." I unintentionally let out a loud, resentful Ouch, then muttered to Ian (whose hand I nearly squeezed off), "Big f*ing mosquito!" I guess the doctor heard me because she sympathetically said, "Ok, maybe not a mosquito."

When it was time to extract the bone and there was a discussion going on that it really required "more strength in a doctor's back and legs than their arms" to do the procedure, it was also time to plug my ears and just grit my teeth. Needless to say, the doctor was very kind and skilled in performing the procedure as I had very little pain afterward and it was all over very quickly.

That's when the Ativan and morphine kicked in.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Things are Bad, Send Chocolate

OK, not that bad (but you can still send the chocolate...)

Last night was a bit rough. It seems that since the bronchoscopy I had a few weeks ago (which confirmed some small nodes in my bronchia), I have been coughing more. It is especially bad when I get up in the morning, when I go from inside or outside, talk too much or when I am active.

In other words, quite frequently unless I am doing nothing.

As I was going to bed last night, I began to have a coughing bout which lasted over an hour and led to much gagging and throwing up. Eventually, after sobbing my way through it, Ian suggested a Neo Citron, which made me stop coughing almost immediately.

Grateful to finally be drifting off in an NC haze, I instead proceeded to have an extreme attack of itching and night sweats. After about four hours of writhing around like a hooked salmon, both seemed to ease off.

Then, the finale - another hour spent having excruciating leg cramps. By the time it was all over, the sun was up and the birds were chirping.

I, on the other hand, was not.

While it was a miserable night, I am grateful that it is not pain that is plaguing me (minus the leg cramps). Still, these symptoms make for trying times. I am quite ready to be done with feeling this crappy and limiting my activity so much due to the coughing.

Also, the start of the trial has been bumped forward, again, a few days (from this coming Tuesday to Thursday), this time due to a delay getting the drug to Canada.

At this point, I'm ready to grab a white Ford Bronco and pick the bloody stuff up myself.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Consenting Adult

The final consent for the SGN-35 trial is complete so we are hopeful that next Tuesday, the 12th, I will receive the first dose of this long-awaited drug.

That means this week is chock full of activity, starting with another bone marrow biopsy on Tuesday. I thought I was pretty tough since this will be number five, until I heard that Adrienne (hi guys) has had more than a dozen.

That immediately made me stop whining, but I still booked myself into the spa tomorrow where I'll enjoy aromatherapy rather than Ativan.