I must be overdue for an update after almost 1.5 years.
The stem cell transplant went very well, with only the expected side effects. I wont bother going into the details of all that here. I’m sure it’s well documented elsewhere. But, I did get what is called a Very Good Partial Response. Which means my m-spike was lowered by 90% or better. It was actually very borderline; but, both the doctor and I figured it was within statistically allowable margins. Having a VGPR meant that having a second transplant would probably not have much effect on overal survivability. So, I decided not to have a second transplant and avoid all of the risks that go along with that.
Now, almost 1.5 years later. I am feeling great. I am back to riding my bicycle around Seattle, sailing around Lake Union, and spending time with my friends. I also went back to work in April (to the best job I’ve ever had.) It really does take a year or better to fully recover from a stem cell transplant. I’m not sure how much of that is phycological; then again, I’m not sure if it matters whether its phycological or physical.
I feel great; however, my cancer has started to grow again. My m-spike has increased by about 50% in the past 4 months, or so. Its an interesting time. It was almost easy to think that it would not come back again, after being stable for so many months. Now, every blood tests is an emotional event. Increases in calcium levels or protein levels, no matter how small, make my eyes teary. And so did a onetime decrease in my calcium level, hoping/thinking that there had been a reversal. So far, treatment, since the transplant, has been borderline effective. Velcade seems to have slowed it down; but, it wasn’t the reversal that I had hoped for.
I feel very fortunate to have many friends that have helped me in many ways during this process. My best friend and mother of my son helped me to a degree, during my transplant, and in a way that I will never be able to thank her enough. It truly would have been impossible without her. My good friend Russell let me work for him, fed me, and has given me great support throughtout my post-transplant recovery. Really, without the little extra income that I was able to earn working for him, I would not have been able to make it through the month without running out of money. (If anyone in the Seattle area needs some first class kitchen or bathroom remodeling, give Russell a call. He does a great job, and he’s an awsome guy. www.a-carpenter.com ). There are my good friends Jim, John, and others who insisted on buying me breakfast, lunches, and dinners. There is even the passing acquaintances who told me that I didn’t need to pay them for their services or goods. Not, to mention the free yoga classes, pilates classes, meditation classes, classes for almost anything, and numerous workshops that are offered to cancer survivors. It is all very much appreciated, and it was one of the hardest things for me. It was quite a lesson in leaning to receive and accept the help and generosity of others. Now, I am looking for ways to give back to those who have a need.