Chapter 19: Time to stem cell-ebrate

I have just had some great news ๐Ÿ˜„ 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 ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ˜–) 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 ๐Ÿ˜‘). 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!

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 ๐Ÿš‚ ๐Ÿ˜‚) 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.


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?! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Everyone clear? No, me neither…

Chapter 17: Welcome back to neutropenia ๐Ÿ‘‹

So this update is coming to you live from my cancer unit (oooh how exciting). They are playing Christmas songs today so I am happy! ๐ŸŽ…๐Ÿผ๐ŸŽ„โญ๏ธ๐ŸŽ Thought Iโ€™d bring my laptop with me and try and be at least marginally productive rather than squinting at Youtube videos on my phone for hours, which is what I normally do. Iโ€™m in today for two bags of blood and a bag of platelets. I thought I might not need blood products as much as I did on my previous chemo regimen, but alas I was incorrect. I also thought (and hoped) that I might not be neutropenic this time but I am indeed back in neutropenia again. Sounds like a travel destination. Trust me, itโ€™s not somewhere you want to visit. I feel like Iโ€™m now counting down the days until I get my first infection of the new chemo and end up back in hospital. I mean I really hope that it isnโ€™t going to happen, but I had seven episodes of neutropenic sepsis over my first chemo regimen and so Iโ€™m not holding out too much hope for this time. We shall see, whatever happens, happens.

There was a lot of confusion between myself, my consultant and the staff at my unit as to what my management plan was; was my chemo going to be every three weeks? Every two weeks? It seemed like nobody knew. That has now been ironed out which is good; I donโ€™t feel so unsure about what is happening to me and when. The plan is to deliver my chemo every two weeks if possible, rather than the standard three weeks, but that very much depends on my blood counts. Today (well, yesterday actually) should have been day one of my second round of chemo but all my counts have tanked so here I am for a top-up. Iโ€™m into double figures now for both blood and platelet transfusions and I still find it totally magical that you can take blood from one human and use it to top up another human. How great is science. This is another chance for me to say a massive thank you to all those who donate blood products, you really are saving lives!

In other exciting news, one of my closest and oldest friends, Emma, (24 years of friendship and counting) is going to be RUNNING THE BLOODY LONDON MARATHON!!!!!! She will be running for Bloodwise which is so amazing and exciting! Sheโ€™s the fittest, most active person I know and sheโ€™s going to absolutely smash her training. If anyone fancies sponsoring her and therefore donating to the wonderful Bloodwise you can find her Just Giving page here.

We fund research to change the lives of people living with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other types of blood cancer. Help us find cures for all of them. 

Since 1960, weโ€™ve invested more than ยฃ500 million in research to save lives and improve the lives of people with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and other blood cancers.

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