mellymell: (Default)
First, I want to say that, although I didn't go back and reply to all the comments on my step-mom, I really appreciate everyone's sentiments and well wishes and thoughts and prayers on the matter! It really touched me that people thanked me for the update, showing that our family are not the only ones thinking about it. So thank you guys so much for caring! The procedure is really fascinating and medical science just amazes me. They don't understand what the stem cells are doing or how they do it, but they just know it works at this point and that's sort of amazing in itself.

Now, the other things. )
mellymell: (rainbow at island in the sky)
[ profile] arymetore posted this a few days ago and I keep meaning to repost it.

In memory of family and friends who have lost the battle with cancer; and in support of the ones who continue to conquer it! Post this on your LJ if you know someone who has or had cancer. 93% won't copy and paste this. Will you?

I'm lucky to not have lost anyone to cancer. But I have an update on my step-mom that I've been meaning to post for a few weeks now.

Around Christmas they had gotten to the point where the chemo and other treatments weren't doing what they wanted them to do. So they promptly started harvesting stem cells from her blood. They did this for 8-12 weeks. She would go in frequently, maybe even daily some weeks and they would go through a process similar to taking plasma (pull out the blood, separate out the stem cells, put everything else back in).

Early this month, I got a call from dad saying that they had finally done her transplant. They had harvested more than enough stem cells for two transplants just in case something went wrong. She got her dose of lethal radiation that killed off everything in her bone marrow on a Wednesday and the next day got her transplant. By that Friday, when I talked to dad, he said she got up that morning and showered by herself, which was a big deal for her at the time. She has to remain in an incredibly sterile environment for about 30 days. Even the salt and pepper on her food has to be brought up to bacteria killing temperatures. She can't eat anything raw, except for fruits and veggies that can be peeled (bananas, oranges, anything with a rind, basically). Even then, she has to either wear gloves or let someone else do the peeling. She's basically radioactive right now. Or was at the time (I'm sure at this point some of those effects have waned).

Something I hadn't really thought about was just how much this is sort of like hitting the reset button on your body. In a year, once her blood production looks good and they're sure she's not going to have to go through the process again, they're going to have to readminister every vaccination she's ever had (and then some, since we get a lot more vaccines now than we did when she was getting them as a child). The nurses gave her a little birthday party the day she went in for her transplant. They said it was sort of like she was being reborn.

At that point he said it would take about two weeks for the stem cells to do their thing and start producing blood cells again. So she's in a fragile state right now, but they're all very positive about how she's responded thus far and very optimistic that this will help put her into remission. As soon as it's safe for her to have visitors, we'll go down and see them, I hope.

Time was of the essence for her. She was diagnosed about a year ago and this is how far and how fast it progressed. Because they caught it early on, they were able to monitor the progress and plan an attack, so to speak. Of course, she will always go in for tests on a regular basis from here on out, even if this does exactly what they hope it will. But again, because they'll be monitoring her, they'll be able to do this all over again if necessary.

So, I'm more grateful than usual that I can post that I've not lost anyone to cancer. A year ago, it looked considerably more bleak for our family on that front. I'm eternally grateful to the doctors and nurses who have worked with her and continue to provide her care. Everyone has been tremendous. I'm grateful that my step-sister-in-law (that's a mouthful) is right next door to help my dad out with things and help take her to appointments and help her get around and such. I wish I could be closer right now and wish I could do more for them. But I'm so glad they're in good hands.
mellymell: (me at arches 2005)
My stepmom went in last Wednesday for her next round of tests and she got the results yesterday. Her antibodies are up, so they're still calling it a "smoldering" stage. She'll go back in 3 months for the same round of tests and some intravenous bone strengthening meds.

Much appreciation for continuing to keep her and our family in your thoughts/prayers/what have you!
mellymell: (me at arches 2005)
I just got an update from my stepmom. All her results came back and there are no tumors. I'm assuming this means she is, in fact, in a dormant phase and they're just in "keeping an eye on it" mode right now. She'll go back in June for more blood work and another bone marrow biopsy.

Thanks for all the good thoughts, prayers, vibes and well wishes! I keep meaning to go back and answer all of the comments from the last post, but writing the post itself put me in an instant depression and it took a few days to recover. So, I'm trying to think about this in small doses.

I will say one thing about this situation, now. Alicia went to a doctor originally because of nausea and general gastro-intestinal discomfort. When they didn't find any of the typical ailments, they turned to running some blood tests. They found that she had cancerous cells in her blood and apparently blood cells were cloning themselves. My point is, if you're feeling under the weather and you're just not sure what might be causing it, go to the doctor. You never know what simple stomach upset might mean.


mellymell: (Default)

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