So, eleven years after my initial diagnosis, and 9 years since my first transplant, we’ve now been told that it’s time to harvest my stem cells in preparation for my second Stem Cell Transplant. The date for harvest (not transplant), will be the 15th July.
I have to say, whilst I’m naturally a bit nervous, I’m also really pleased that we’re moving forwards with the process give that I’d expected to have had my actual transplant by this point in time. Bloody covid-19! Whilst the QE in Birmingham still isn’t open for Stem Cell Transplants as they’re being super cautious, this means that once they do open up, hopefully I’ll be in a position to go in once it’s my turn on the waiting list. We’re quietly hoping for August/September.
So, what is a stem cell harvest? Basically, it is where, in this instance, they will take out my stem cells, in order that when I go in for my transplant and they give me a mega high dose of chemotherapy, that they can give those same stem cells back to me, to help me recover. The chemo puts my immunity at zero – without the stem cells it would be almost impossible for me to recover.
In order to harvest my stem cells, they’ve given me what are called GCS-F injections which I have to self inject for the 4 days before I go in. 3 injections every evening (my own fault for putting so much weight on!!). This should be fairly simple, although it is quite likely that for these few days, I’ll have a lot of bone pain, and possibly feel quite flu like.
I’ll then go in on the 15th July and they will test my blood to see whether my stem cell count looks high enough. If it does, I’ll be hooked up to a machine and all going well, they’ll pump the stem cells out and then let me home about 5 hours later! It wasn’t quite that straightforward back in 2011, so keep your fingers crossed for me as it’s one of the few processes I’m petrified of!
We’re hoping that a) my blood count is high enough and b) that they get enough stem cells on day 1. But if my count isn’t high enough, I’ll be given an injection that evening to help stimulate my cells further and will then go back the next day. I can have up to 3 of those injections I believe. I’m lucky in that I do already have some stem cells from the Royal Marsden when I had my first transplant so hopefully this won’t be a massive deal.
All in all this is good news. My general paraprotein level is staying stable thank goodness, so there is no rush for the transplant. But that said, it would be much better for me to have it over the summer, than in the winter when a pandemic repeat is a possibility, along with all the other winter bugs that float around!
Just want to say thank you again to all of you who put up with my rants and moans on here and who help support us through all of this….one day I might even shut up!