I'm home. I'm so glad to be here! They are wonderful to me at the hospital, but it's true that there is no place like home. I was there 3 days, but it feels like I've been gone for a week.
Josh and his family were just pulling into the driveway when I got home, so I got to see all of them. I talked to Kelly, who took care of my dogs, the cat, her Gran and my house while I was gone. Ron and both of my sisters called me this evening, and Josh just came back and brought me some barbecued chicken he grilled. They are all so sweet, and life is good. :o)
I've been moved from the cancer side of things to the bone marrow transplant unit at Wilford Hall, with a new set of doctors, a different clinic, and some different nurses and techs. The regular chemotherapy regimen is finished, but there will be more chemo with the stem cell transplant. Please keep praying for me. I'm more stressed about the transplant stuff than I was about the first six rounds of chemo. Thanks!
They did a lot while I was in the hospital this time. I got the central line implanted in my chest on Monday. It's BIG! They did what they called "tunneling," which means it's kind of backed up to my neck under the skin. Looks weird. Then there are two "nozzles" coming out on the left side of my upper chest. It's on the same side as my PICC line. I have 4 lines they can use for various things. I feel like a Cyborg. They will use the central line to harvest my stem cells. They said the reason it has to be so large is so that none of the cells will be damaged going through the line. There is some redness today around the central line, so they have me on antibiotics in case of infection. It's a bit itchy, too.
They started chemo Monday afternoon. It was 4 cycles of Ara-C, 1 of Rituxan and some kind of steroid that I've forgotten the name of. They finished the 4th cycle of Ara-C this morning from about midnight to 4 AM. I slept through the last cycle. :o)
The dentist came to visit me to take a look at my broken molar. He decided that it could wait until after my entire treatment is finished. I'm glad to hear that.
I had a breathing test at the pulmonary clinic. I have huge lung capacity for an old lady--the guy who did the test was very impressed. :o) I credit that to never having smoked. I have good, healthy lungs.
I had an EKG, a chest X-Ray, and a mammogram. They were not able to get me in for the MUGA scan and told me to call Nuclear Medicine at BAMC. I did, but they can't do it until August 19, and that's a day after I'm supposed to start the stem cell harvest. That won't do, so I'll have to get my doctor to call them and get me in sooner. Bother.
I have to go back on Friday for labs, a dressing change and so that they can look at my central line to be sure there is no infection. I'll see one of the transplant docs then, too.
I'll start the Neupogen shots (2X a day) tomorrow and will continue them through the stem cell harvest period. There are other meds I take from days 5 through the 15th to keep me from getting side effects from the chemo (I get those after every chemo treatment). Plus the antibiotic for the central line, nausea meds as needed, and eye drops to protect my eyes. It's a lot to remember, along with my usual diabetes and thyroid meds!
I didn't see the social worker or clinical coordinator, but I don't think they are important (don't tell them I said that). I talked to one of them today for a few minutes, and she said we could get together any time during the stem cell transplant procedure.
I'll go in on August 17 for Rituxan therapy (another chemo). Then the next day I'll start the stem cell harvest procedure. It takes 4 hours, and can take from one to three days, depending on how many stem cells they can recover. I'm not looking forward to this procedure. They said my family can be with me for it. Ron will still be out of town, but Kelly and Josh are going to be with me. They said we can watch movies, have snacks, etc. They try to make it sound like fun, but I've read what can happen and it's kind of scary. I don't ever believe them any more when they tell me something is quick and easy. It never is.
I still don't have a date for the deep chemo that will be done in the hospital for 6 days. The doctor will tell me, probably next week.
It seems like things are happening really quickly now. I'm excited that my treatment will soon be over, anxious about the procedures, and hopeful that all of this will have excellent results.
If this treatment cures me of mantle cell lymphoma, I will consider it a miracle. The transplant doctors said that mantle cell almost always comes back because some of the cells are slow growing and cannot be targeted by the chemo. Mantle cell is one of the rare forms of lymphoma. Only about 6% of lymphoma patients have it, and only about 2% of those are women; men usually get it. So I am a rare lymphoma patient with little chance of a complete cure. Most mantle cell patients have a recurrence of the disease within 5 years or so.
But my doctors tell me that I have had an excellent response, that I'm doing really well, and they are hopeful. I am even more hopeful, because I know the power of faith and prayer. I have had so many wonderful people praying for me, I have used my Lourdes water, I've said Novenas to many saints, and Jesus is right here with me, holding me close no matter what happens.
Thank you again for your thoughts, love and prayers. I can't begin to express what it means to me.
Sorry, I know some of this is repetition. I guess I'm trying to get it all straight in my head. ;o)