April 16, 2012
I met with Ghada first after the preliminaries. She looked at my records to see where I was in the progression of myeloma. She said I was clearly in Stage I. She explained what was involved in Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation.
First, one goes through a period of harvesting stem cells from one’s own blood. Sometimes drugs are given to enhance the creation of stem cells. After harvesting, these can be stored for later use, or used the following week.
The next part is rough. The patient is given high doses of melphalin, a potent anti-cancer drug, that virtually wipes out the marrow in an effort to destroy the myeloma cells. Then one is given one’s own stem cells back to repopulate the bone marrow and, hopefully return the marrow to a healthy status. All told, this can take 4 to 8 weeks of stay at Moffitt to complete this process.
While it’s nice to know that this is an option for me in the future, I have to say, I don’t look forward to the experience. I’m planning to get well enough to not need this!
I then met with José, another MD at Moffitt. While he did not go into the details of Stem Cell Transplantation, he did say that they now had the results of my FISH assessment and the results were good in that I had no chromosomal defect that would place me in a high risk group. He also said that the PET/CT and the Spinal MRI had shown that I was in good shape and clearly in early Stage I. He went on to say, that I was not sick enough for Stem Cell Transplantation now and that I could certainly be considered for this in the future. I asked about harvesting for future use and he explained that this was an option. He said some insurance plans did not pay for harvesting only, but most would pay for the complete process. José then thumped on my spine to see if he could detect any pain in the bones and also evaluated my movement capabilities with my right arm and shoulder.
Shortly before I left, Kelly who is an RN who works with Jose, gave me a Moffitt book on the Stem Cell Transplant process for me to fully understand what this was and what was involved. She also gave me her card and asked that I keep in touch. If I was going to have harvesting done, Moffitt will need about 3-months notice to set it up.
Kathleen and I drove home after having lunch at Jason’s Deli.