Stephen is moving closer to his first transplant. This past week he had a Echo/EKG, a chest x-ray, lab work (18 tubes of blood), and pulmonary tests. Last Wednesday the 28th of April he had one last chemo-therapy of the Brentiximab Vedotin (I’m going to miss typing that word). He is almost unaffected when he gets that treatment. 2 or 3 days later he gets a little yellow and tired.
Wednesday April 4th we are going in for a consultation and educational training. Hopefully we will learn what to expect and what we need to do to be as prepared as possible.
Friday, April 6th he will start with the process of stem cell collection. Friday morning they will replace his current ‘power port’ with a new system of hoses that poke out of his chest. My understanding is that it will have 3 tubes that are outside the body for easy access to his blood supply. Also on Friday, they will start the first of a series of shots that assist with the stem cell collection. The first shots get your bone marrow to over-produce stem cells (baby blood cells). We call it skelegrow. The main side effect of this is that it causes your bones to ache. Stephen has had one shot of it before to help his blood counts recover after chemo. They give this shot once a day for about 4 days, then, they give another shot which causes the bone marrow to release these cells into your bloodstream. The cells are then collected by taking your blood out of one of the tubes, spinning it to collect the cells and then returning the blood to your body through one of the other tubes. This process can take several visits to collect enough cells. They will collect enough cells for both transplants at this time.
So that is what he will be up to for the next week or two. In the mean time, he is trying really hard to get enough strength to get outside and enjoy a little sunshine. His abdomen is still pretty tender but he managed to hit a bucket of balls at the driving range the other day. He was able to sit through 2 hours of church and he even ate almost an entire big mac! He usually drinks muscle milk, recovery drinks and carnation instant breakfast because he doesn’t like eating right now.
Thanks again for being the most awesome friends and family in the world!