Monday, July 2, 2012

ALL matched up

A week or so ago, Hanna and I came home to an overnight letter from Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).  We tore it open and were so pumped to read that Be The Match had found SEVERAL perfect matches for my bone marrow.  This was such a huge relief and an important hurdle to clear before we are able to move on to the transplant in Seattle.  We reread the letter about a dozen times to be sure that we were reading the right thing.  I knew that it was likely to find a match, but it was a good feeling to actually read the words.  It is pretty remarkable to think that somebody's decision to have that mouth swab and get on the registry is leading to a life-saving opportunity for me.  I am very grateful for that person's decision and the decision of so many who have supported me through this by registering and encouraging others to register. 

The other benefit of finding a match rather quickly is that they were able to cancel the "while we wait" chemo treatment that I was scheduled to get at Georgetown.  Instead of having another week of chemo here and two weeks in recovery, we will be heading to Seattle sooner than we thought and starting the transplant process.  The date of our first meeting out there is July 11th so we will be flying out and  settling in on the 9th.  It is just quite overwhelming to think that one week from today we will be getting on a plane to head west for four months and that the next time I am back on the east coast I will have new marrow and be that much closer to a final cure and the end of all this craziness.  I assure you there will be quite the party!  The most overwhelming part before we go is arranging all of the insurance, housing, and flights and the mounds of paperwork that go along with it. It has been a pretty big headache with phone tag and nobody really being able to answer questions, but, I guess, in a way it has been a distraction from dwelling too much on the transplant.  It is hard to wrap my head around what the next four months will be like, but I am so comforted to know that Hanna will be by my side and will be my teammate for every step of those four months......definitely makes the whole ordeal less scary. 

The first three weeks in Seattle will be filled with tests to make sure that I am healthy enough to go through with the transplant......EKG's, pulmonary tests, bloods tests, biopsies and that kind of thing.  This is all stuff I have been through before (pretty sure I could give myself a biopsy at this point) so I am not too worried.  I won't have any chemo so I will be pretty strong which will give Hanna and I an opportunity to check out the city a little bit and enjoy ourselves.  I am going to suggest climbing Mt Ranier to the docs but I have a bad feeling about what their answer may be.  At the end of July, I will receive 3 days of total body radiation which destroys all of my bone marrow.  This leads up to the transplant which should be about August 2nd or 3rd.  Its pretty amazing that the donor/my new best buddy will donate the marrow which will be flown to Seattle and infused into me all in the same day.  The transplant itself is a pretty painless procedure and is done through the central line already placed in my chest (like a regular blood transfusion).  I won't feel much and I will be able to hang out in the room with Hanna while it is happening.  After that, I will be in the hospital about 3 weeks for some chemo and close monitoring to see how my body accepts the new marrow.  Once my body begins to reproduce new marrow on its own, I will be discharged with daily outpatient visits while I recover and grow stronger.  If all goes according to plan, we should be back on the east coast sometime in early to mid November....just in time for what will be a very meaningful and true to its name Thanksgiving. 

I know that was a lot of info but I just wanted everyone to know the general plan so that we can feel like we're going through every step together even though we are so far away.  We know that we will not be alone and that truly makes it so much easier to step into this battle and be confident that...

ALL Will Be Well

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."