Today was spent preparing and getting information on Stephen’s second transplant procedure. It is scheduled to begin next Tuesday, July 17th.
We met with the Doctor of Radiation Oncology this morning. He explained the process to us and how it would work. Stephen will receive 2 treatments a day for 3 days. Each treatment will be 20 minutes to the front and 20 minutes to the back. He is in a standing position throughout the treatment. They have handles to hold on to and a seat to lean on. He can bring an ipod or something that they can setup for music or an audio book. They measured him for the settings of the equipment today. They also did a CAT scan of his torso that determines the thickness of his body from front to back. They use that measurement, along with his height and weight to determine the right strength of radiation. They also measured to create a shield for his lungs. The lungs are the only part of the body that is protected with TBI (total body irradiation). The lungs will receive 1/3 the amount the rest of the body receives. Then they gave him 4 tattoos (for real). They put 4 black dots on him so that they can line up the radiation exactly in the same spot each time.
After Radiation, we went up to the BMT clinic for blood tests. We took an hour break for lunch and then we had a consultation with one of the Transplant Doctors. She went over all the details and dates and times of the treatment. He will have to receive a 20 minute infusion each day for 3 days before entering the hospital. This medicine thickens the lining of the mouth and esophagus so that they are less susceptible to sores. He will get those infusions on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Tuesday the 17th, he will be admitted and receive radiation therapy Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, he will receive chemotherapy again (higher doses than last time). Monday will be his day of rest while all the chemotherapy is metabolized. Tuesday, July 24th, will be his Birthday! (for the 3rd time) He will get the remainder of his stored stem cells back on that day. What a great day for a birthday! The entire state of Utah will celebrate with him every year. It is fitting that we will celebrate that day. He has certainly shown the courage, faith and stamina of a Pioneer.
After that…begins the recovery process (again). We will just wait and see what that brings this time. In some ways it is really nice to go into this knowing basically what will happen…in other ways it is horrible going into this knowing basically what will happen. Stephen’s conclusion…bring it on and let’s get this over with!
P.S. Stephen has been having a lot of fun while he has felt well the last two weeks. He’s been golfing, visiting with friends at BYU, going to movies, helping at swim meets and I can’t remember what all else. I’ll post a few photos when I get a chance. I should also mention that the date of his transplant this time was determined by Stephen’s request to be hospitalize after the 15th of July. He wanted to make sure he didn’t miss his mission President’s homecoming. There will be a mission reunion Friday the 13th and President Nelson and his wife will speak in church Sunday the 15th. He is so excited that he is going to be well enough to attend these events.