|Laure and I, Rockford, Illinois, circa 1968|
That's me and my big sister, Laure Rooker McKenna, in front of our house in Rockford, Illinois, about 43 years ago. In about 3 weeks, she will donate her stem cells to me in a life-saving, potentially cancer-curing procedure at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas - now known as a stem cell transplant (was formerly known as bone marrow transplant). I would be remiss if I didn't mention my kid sister, Jill DiCicco, who by genetic happenstance was not a match - all I can tell you is that she wishes she had been a match but rejoiced just as much for Laure being one. Both my sisters would lay down their lives for me, and I for them. "Greater love hath no man than this - that he lay down his life for his friends".....*snif* !!
The main thing today is to share with you the latest schedule for our temporary move to Houston.
I spent some time on the phone yesterday with my MD Anderson transplant coordinator and we have a plan that goes as follows -
- Renee and I fly to Houston early on November 28th. The first order of business will be to do CAT scans to determine if my lymphoma is in remission. This is a "go / no go" decision on the transplant that I assume Dr. Hosing and Dr. Keating will confer on. That afternoon Renee and I will "move" in to our temporary apartment near the medical center. We are optimistic about the lymphoma but we need prayer for this - we are praying for "no sign of lymphoma" - i.e., a complete remission.
- On Tuesday afternoon, November 29th, Laure will fly from NYC to Houston. She will get pre-testing starting Wednesday - the main test will be blood labs, the results of which will be available Friday - this is a "go / no go" decision on her being a donor - it is routine and as long as her blood counts are within normal ranges, there's no issue.
- Chill over the weekend
- Laure will start the stem cell donation/collection process on Monday, Dec 5 and continue Tuesday the 6th if necessary. Both of us continue as out-patients during this time.
- When they have a successful collection from Laure, probably sometime Tuesday afternoon, they will freeze it and begin the process of checking me in (probably Wednesday the 7th) and getting me ready for the conditioning chemotherapy, which might start late Wednesday or Thursday - that lasts approximately a week but I will not know that schedule until after the CAT scans and bone marrow biopsies are done. The conditioning chemotherapy is designed to suppress my immune system so that it will not interfere with Laure's stem cells when they are infused.
- In broad strokes, I should be in the hospital for about a month, then move out into the apartment sometime between January 5 and 15, and continue with outpatient visits, side effect management, etc for another 2 to 3 months - Renee will be with me for the duration, splitting time between the hospital and the apartment, though we are planning at least one "home leave" for her in late January for a week.
The side effects from hyper-CVAD 2 have been very manageable so far; this is "day 10" and I have a week of very low counts and mouth/stomach sores coming- so we're in germ-o-phobe mode now. Let me know if you have any questions - more soon......God Bless....
Dan and Renee