2nd Autologous Stem Cell Transplant for Relapse – May 18 2012

After I relapsed on 27 February 2012, I was prepped with chemotherapy and received my 2nd Autologous Stem Cell Transplant today, May 18 2012. I will attempt to outline the steps for you here.

First, gather the “fun squad” for smiles and laughs. My bestest sister, Jani and Faye Hummel (both were with me during my 1st Autologous Stem Cell Transplant 13 September 2011 too).

Add 2 RNs and the Stem Cell Technician and the party is almost ready to commence. Me, RN Sarah, RN Emily, and Stem Cell Technician Cassie.I was especially happy to see Stem Cell Technician Cassie because she was the technician that collected my stem cells for frozen storage last August 2011.
Lots of number checking and double checking to make sure the stem cells were mine and the batch that Dr. Myint had selected for the 2nd autologous stem cell transplant.Cassie prepares the warm water bath (about body temperature) to thaw the frozen stem cells in.
Cassie gets my stem cells out of the liquid nitrogen container with a temperature of minus 190 F.
My stem cells in a flat little package.
Cassie puts my frozen stem cells into the warm water bath.Through experience, Cassie knows exactly when the stem cells are thawed and ready for administration.Then RN Sarah and RN Emily hang the stem cells to run by gravity into my PICC line. They do not use a pump to administer stem cells because it can damage the cells. So getting my stem cell transplant is a lot like a blood transfusion except the stem cells are thicker and require saline flushing to keep them running through my little PICC line.My stem cells entering my PICC line.
Since the stems cells run by gravity, I had to lie flat to allow them to run more affectively.
Faye Hummel made sure I had my Judy Richter Jolly Rancher candy to suck on to offset the taste and smell of the stem cell preservative, DMSO, which smells a lot like burnt cream corn! I can tell you watermelon and cherry flavors go pretty well with cream corn, but candy apple is AWFUL!!!
Constant flushing to get the stem cells moving in. I felt nothing during the stem cell transfusion. I was pre-medicated with hydrocortisone IV and NOT Benadryl this time. It was soooooo much better, as I was alert and able to party along with everyone in the room.
The empty stem cell bag double checked again.My transplant doctor, Han Myint, MD, arrived at the end of my 2nd autologous stem cell transplant. I will have to wait 10 to 14 days for the stem cells to engraft in my bone marrow. Hopefully, this transplant will get me into remission again.But, remember, stem cell transplantation in multiple myeloma is just a treatment and NOT a cure. I will have to go on maintenance chemotherapy after engraftment….yet to be determined.

Thanks everyone! Me, Dr. Myint, RN Sarah, RN Emily and Technician Cassie.
And don’t forget my support team and photographers extraordinaire, Jani and Faye!!!