The best current treatment for multiple myeloma is understood because the “Arkansas Treatment” — which incorporates many cycles of chemo, scores of completely different cancer-fighting medicine, and an autologous stem cell transplant. Actually, it requires 2 stem cell transplants in an exceedingly row, referred to as a “tandem” transplant, however the first chemo cycles broken the author’s heart muscle thus he solely qualified for the primary transplant. This chemotherapy regimen carries the name Arkansas Treatment as a result of the doctor who developed it lives and practices in Arkansas.
When the author asked the question, “Why 2 transplants?” the solution given was that a number of the cancer cells hide and are tough to search out. thus if the primary transplant works well, the second ought to lookout of any and every one remaining cancerous cells. once they collected the stem cells, their goal was to gather ten million. They come back regarding five million to the patient throughout every transplant.)
The first few days of this cycle were the best. Once again, the author moved into a hotel space at intervals a mile of the cancer clinic for the length of this procedure. the primary 2 mornings at the clinic were the times they administered the “high dose” drug. This explicit drug is one that directly attacks and kills all cancer cells. Most of the opposite medicine utilized in earlier cycles of chemo worked in indirect ways in which to attack the cancer. This drug has been around for years and it goes directly once the cancer cells.
Actually, this drug includes a broader impact than simply attacking cancer cells. It attacks all fast-reproducing cells within the body which incorporates, of course, the cancerous cells, however conjointly includes hair follicles, skin, and plenty of smart blood cells. They decision it a “high dose” step as a result of they offer the patient sufficient drug to kill all targets. a number of this drug was administered Monday morning, and also the rest was administered Tuesday morning. each were relaxed days. The infusions did not take terribly long and also the author was quickly released to come back to his hotel space. On Wednesday, they infused a bag of saline, however nothing else. That, too went quickly, and also the author was another time sent back to his hotel space.
Thursday was designated day “0” as a result of it had been the day the stem cells were reinfused into his body. They described these days because the “first day” of the author’s “new life.” The stem cell infusion went simply and quickly, as well. And another time, the author came back to his hotel space. every of the subsequent days concerned the author to come back to the clinic to possess his blood counts checked. Any minerals required within the blood may be infused, however typically, most of these days were short stops at the clinic.
The reasoning behind the transplant procedure seems to be this: Since they collected the patient’s stem cells at an earlier date and that they were safely in storage, the high dose drug couldn’t have an effect on them in any method. in order that they conveniently missed the consequences of the high dose meds. once they were another time came back to the patient on the Thursday of that week, the high dose drug within the patient’s system was now not effective, thus it couldn’t cause any hurt to the newly infused stem cells. Following reinfusion of the stem cells, all that was left to try to to was wait. The workers explained that it might take nine to eleven days for the stem cells to find properly and to start operating once more. At that time, blood counts would another time begin to rise.
The author remembers that following the reinfusion of his stem cells, he felt fine. His blood counts were still comparatively high and he was told he did not have to be compelled to keep isolated in his hotel space. it had been solely that Sunday and Monday that the blood counts dropped off precipitously and he had to cover away in his hotel space. This drop in blood counts came from the consequences of the high dose drug. additionally to the precipitous drop in blood counts, the author’s energy dropped off precipitously similarly. To rearrange his position on the bed, from lying there propped up by a pillow, to maneuver slightly and fluff up the pillow, was a true chore. Walking from the bed to the toilet was quite tough. throughout this point, they’d connected a transportable pump and huge baggage of saline to the PICC line within the author’s arm. A second transportable pump, connected to the second lumen on the PICC line maintained a really slow flow of an anti-nausea drug. If needed, the author might push a button on that pump and it might dispense a far additional substantial volume of the drug directly into the blood stream where it might do its factor. No attempting to require pills and hoping they might keep down long enough to become effective.
This system was great! even supposing the author extremely did not have to be compelled to use the anti-nausea meds, it provided peace of mind as a result of the author knew that if required to press the button, it might deposit the meds right into his blood stream where they might do their thing! Press the button, and — instant relief. the foremost tough a part of this method was obtaining up the energy to select up the bag holding the pumps and fluids and carrying it to the toilet. the very fact that saline was being pumped into the patient 24/7 throughout those days forced frequent visits to the toilet — whether or not he might muster the energy to try to to it or not!
During those days, his white blood cell counts were close to zero. traditional values are within the thousands. throughout that point, the sheet showed values of a hundred — which implies that values around fifty would are rounded up to supply the 100s shown on the CBC sheets. The oncologist had predicted at the beginning of chemo that the author would most likely not get sick (meaning nauseous) throughout the method of chemo. the sole factor he predicted was that the author’s energy would be extraordinarily low. all-time low energy days of the total six months of chemotherapy treatments were throughout the week following the administration of the high dose drug and also the reinfusion of the stem cells.
The transplant nurses all said that the blood counts would begin to rise another time, because of the functioning of the new stem cells, regarding the second weekend (days #9-11 per the new count.) That prediction too was correct. Sunday’s take a look at results indicated the blood counts were on the point of rise, and Monday’s results had them sufficiently high that the author was released from the hotel space and allowed to travel home.
During the time when blood counts were significantly low, they were terribly careful to watch body temperatures that might have indicated an infection of some type. The stem cells themselves, as they positioned themselves back within the bone marrow cavities of the bones, might cause slight temperature rises. however throughout the evenings within the hotel space when body temperatures rose somewhat, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories were sufficient to cause the author’s body temperature to drop back to the conventional vary. Had the body temperature risen and stayed high, they were ready to admit the author to the transplant ward of the hospital as an inpatient. that did not happen though. This whole procedure was performed as an outpatient procedure. A week’s keep at a close-by hotel was abundant more cost-effective than one day as an inpatient at the hospital.
Having responded to this autologous stem cell transplant, the sole smart reason for not eager to do the second was that it meant the author would lose his hair once more (… which wasn’t a really smart reason.) The echo-cardiogram results proved the undoing of the second transplant. The author’s heart perform had deteriorated throughout the chemotherapy sessions to the purpose where his “left ventricular ejection fraction” (the potency of the heart) had dropped well below traditional. The author is currently seeing a cardiologist and taking pills for the treatment of congenital heart failure, however he’s alive and functioning comparatively normally on most different fronts.
Energy levels these days aren’t as high as they once were, however the author will still be active and participate in traditional activities (albeit terribly slowly). generally uncommon things happened — as an example, it’s currently straightforward to go to sleep whereas typing at the pc — that never happened before. Standing in one spot for long periods of your time is tough. it’s easier to steer slowly, than to face still. When necessary, the author uses a wheelchair, however most of the time a cane suffices.
The results of the total chemotherapy method, together with four cycles followed by the high dose/stem cell transplant procedure is this: the author is currently “as clean of the cancer as he may be,” per the oncologist. Next week are the 2 year anniversary of the stem cell transplant. it’s been a successful procedure. Not all cancers may be treated with stem cell transplants, however this one — multiple myeloma — will. If different multiple myeloma patients are reading this text, please note that the author’s overall expertise with this treatment method has been a decent one!