Two Years Post Stem Cell Transplant!

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 marked EZ’s 2nd birthday, post stem cell transplant. It’s quite sobering to look back not only to the day of transplant in 2010, but to all the events that led up to that point. From the MRI that first indicated “abnormal cells in the sacrum”, to the sacral biopsy that defined the cells as a plasmacytoma, to various other tests confirming multiple myeloma, to radiation, to chemotherapy, to 26 days bedridden in the hospital, to home physical therapy to regain strength, to stem cell preparation and collection, to high dose chemotherapy taking everything to zero, to receiving those healthy stem cells and starting over, it has been quite the journey. You can read about transplant day here, and EZ’s first birthday here. We both feel it is so important to remember where we’ve been, in order to never stop appreciating where we are today.

We began our celebration with a special dinner Friday night. The Dew Crew joined us for many of EZ’s favorites: crackers and cheese, grilled beef, sauteed mushrooms, homemade mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, and chocolate cream pie. The grands were so ready to party that they put their hats on the minute they arrived and wore them most of the night! Love them to pieces!

Nick wasn’t able to stop by Friday night, so we met him for lunch Saturday at Red Lobster for some “Endless Shrimp”. Thankful he took a little break from studying, following his first week of dental school!

For a little walk down memory lane we drove Mom by the apartment we called home for 16 days, and then headed to the Clinic to show her where the transplant took place. (She actually hadn’t visited us during that process because she contracted shingles while we were away!) We met some amazing people during those daily visits to the ABMT Clinic, from fellow patients, to doctors, physician assistants, nurses and staff. We feel nothing but gratitude for the treatment EZ received at Duke.

As we reflect on the past year there is MUCH to be grateful for. Here is our short list, not all-inclusive by any means:

2. EZ started doing all the driving again.
3. We have been able to occasionally dine out.
4. We went to two movies.
5. We attended a UNC basketball game.
6. We sat through Cirque de Soleil and thoroughly enjoyed it.
7. We traveled to our nephew’s wedding on Duck Key, and then drove all the way to Key West.
8. EZ’s M-spike remains at 0 (non-detectable).
9. No need for a walking stick or cane anymore.

While EZ has enjoyed complete response for these past two years, with stable blood counts, we certainly realize that the “myeloma monster” could decide to rear its ugly head again sometime in the future. All we can do is remain diligent in his care and pray it doesn’t. Daily life isn’t pain free, or without maintenance chemotherapy and the constant management of side effects. Consistent, uninterrupted sleep is difficult and elusive. Fatigue is a real battle. EZ simply does the best he can every day. His current regimen as far as prescription medication is:

Revlimid, 10 mg daily (for the past two years)
Oxycontin 60 mg 3 times a day
Hydrocodone 10-325 as needed for breakthrough pain
Lyrica 150 mg 2 times a day
Metanx 2 times a day
Valtrex 1000 mg once a day (through December)
Zoloft 100 mg once a day
Aredia infusion every other month (through December)
(Taking Miralax and stool softeners daily keep constipation from the medications at bay)

For those whose bodies have succumbed to this blood cancer, our hearts go out to their families. We especially miss Sean and Paula from the UK, and will forever feel they were our friends across the pond, who fought valiantly to live, bringing us a touch of humor whenever they could. We are thankful for our blog readers, both those who we feel we now know, and those who stop by anonymously. We hope you have gotten to know our family and that we can be an encouragement to you, in both the good days and in the days when we struggle. EZ and I appreciate your prayers more than you will ever know, and we believe they make a difference.

Being a UNC grad, Nick never cared for this hat much, but EZ wore it to cover his bald head when he went to the clinic during the transplant process. Here is a look back at one handsome “Blue Devil”