Well, I’ve had a nice break from Chemo the last few days, long enough to feel like a normal human being again and do a few things I have been looking forward to for awhile. But Chemo starts again tomorrow for another 3 weeks, so we’ll see what the side effects I get this time.
This month has been full of doctors and other consultants discussing how to proceed to get the best results for putting these cancer cells into remission. Since discovering that the Multiple Myeloma cells I have are a more aggressive form, the Specialists want to be able to gather stem cells from my blood as quickly as possible to have readily available and to plan a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT), sooner than later.
Top of the list for concern is my kidneys. They have improved since April, from 16% to 21%, but that is still Stage 4 and long way off from being out of danger of failure if they put too much of a load on them with various cancer treatments. So there has been considerable discussion about my kidneys and on ways to help them improve faster. The blood transfusion I had in May helped immensely. So much so, that it was decided to put a hold on giving me injections of Aranesp, which was originally in the works to assist the kidneys further in producing the blood cells needed.
At this time the tentative schedule over the summer is, after this next 3 week session of Chemo, to take a 2 week break before gathering stem cells. I’ll have to go to VGH for this procedure and it could take 2 days of being hooked up via 2 intravenous lines, one in each arm. Then another session of Chemo, only a more intensive course, in order to destroy as many of the cancer cells as possible. Meaning I will be very sick. The kind of sick where I will loose all my hair and so on. Then another 2 week break before they begin the BMT, again at VGH.
Not only is this apparently an unpleasant and painful procedure to go through, it is done entirely on an out patient basis, as there are not enough hospital beds to be able to admit BMT patients. And although they know I will have to have home support to get through this, because I will be too sick to make meals or do even the most basic things to look after myself, especially during the more intensive Chemo treatments. Plus someone needs to be available in case things go wrong, like kidney failure, where I would have to go to emergency. However, apparently there is no financial assistance for patients to get this necessary home support during the process.
In addition, there is a series of drug injections, which costs anywhere from $2,500.00 to $3,500.00, that I must have during the week before they can begin the stem cell gathering, for which the patient is expected to pay. A percentage may be covered by our Pharmacare program. Regardless, I do not have any savings left or funds from any source which would cover even a small portion of all these expenses. As a result, unless something changes, I see no way to proceed with a BMT, although that is what I require to put this into remission for approximately 3 or so years.
Having a successful BMT would put the Multiple Myeloma into recession, allowing me to return to a somewhat normal working life for those few years. Until the cancer returns again in numbers where treatment would be required again. Prognosis over the long term would be to extend my life for as much as 20 years, with intermittent courses of treatment and perhaps even longer with improved technologies over that time period.
So that’s where things are at the moment.