Chapter 19: Time to stem cell-ebrate

I have just had some great news πŸ˜„ I’m talking crying-with-happiness good news.

Two weeks ago we attempted to harvest my stem cells and it was a very disappointing fail. We did everything right; injections to mobilise them from my bone marrow into my blood (and the excruciating bone pain that the injections cause – imagine that your whole skeleton is throbbing on every heartbeat πŸ˜¬πŸ˜–) but for no apparent reason it just didn’t work. It was really difficult to not be disheartened and I was convinced that there was no reason why it would suddenly work if tried again, but they wanted to anyway.

I’m back in hospital (again). I had a whole 3 days at home where we planned and then booked a very last minute trip to Bournemouth (which I subsequently missed πŸ˜‘). Turns out this bastard of a cold is something called Respiratory Syncytial Virus and even though they know that it’s almost completely certain that that’s all that I have currently, I have to stay in and on antibiotics anyway just so we don’t risk my precious stem cells being disregarded due to contamination with something bacterial.

Three days ago I started the daily G-CSF injections again (double the normal dose, ouch) and today they did the special blood test to see if it has worked and it has!!! I just got the great news. So tomorrow I get to experience the wonders of modern medicine as my blood will be taken out of my body (not all at once), spun and filtered to removed those glorious stem cells and then put back into me. Let me say, it’s something I thought I’d ever be excited about but I bloody am!

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Chapter 18: New year, same me

I have an absolute stinker of a cold, which I somehow managed to catch while in isolation in hospital on antibiotics… Someone explain that one to me, please… Let me tell you, having a cold while going through chemo is no fun task. My poor, weakened immune system is working overtime to try and shift this bugger and subsequently I feel like sh*t. And when I physically feel like sh*t my mental health takes a nosedive. It’s when the lurking background anxiety creeps a bit closer and starts breathing down my neck and the niggling doubts about my treatment start to multiply. That is why I have taken my laptop out and decided to attempt another blog post through my cold-foggy brain. Apologies if it’s a bit muddled but that’s what it’s like in my head currently.

A lot has happened in the past month. Christmas has been and gone (which feels like a million years ago now), it’s a brand new year (not exactly how I thought I’d see in 2019 but there we go) and I have a bit more clarity on what is happening next with my treatment. I have had 2 rounds of GDP, the new chemo I started at the end of November, had another line fitted (my 4th, this time a bard line), and had one attempt to harvest my own stem cells, unsuccessfully.

The new central line (choo choo πŸš‚ πŸ˜‚) is an absolute monster; like a hickman line BUT BIGGER. Prior to it being fitted (installed?? positioned??? I never know the right term…) I had a second PICC line but was told that in order to attempt to harvest my stem cells I would need a much bigger line with better access. Oh fun. Do you know what’s worse than having had one central line in your chest? Having had two. So a few weeks ago, I was back on the old G-CSF injections (at double the dose, such fun) to attempt to ‘mobilise’ stem cells from my bone marrow into my blood. It didn’t work. Wah wah wahhh.

LOOK AT THAT BEAST

Since then I have had a CT scan to see how well this new chemo has been working and the answer to that is pretty well, a ‘good response’ as my consultant put it, and the plan from now is pretty complicated, see flow chart below. What is this, Black Mirror Bandersnatch?! πŸ˜‚

Everyone clear? No, me neither…