Marshall's music, t-cells, t-shirts and more

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Remission

What a month! Let me first fill you in on my medical treatment, after 6 days of irradiation I had two days of Cytoxin infusions (Cytoxin is a standard chemotherapy drug). The next two days  I received ATG infusions - ATG stands for Anti-Thymocyte Globulin - which if you're like me doesn't tell ya very much. 

One of my nurses taped this picture on my door as a joke.
Here's what you need to know, ATG is an antibody that rabbits produce to fight infection. For my treatment they take the rabbits blood, filter out the ATG and give it to me by infusion. Luckily the side effects have been minimal, I don't mind the loppy ears so much, but the white whiskers that sprouted out under my nose are a little distracting. 

After letting the rabbit globulins flow through my blood stream and destroy my T-cells it was time for my transplant. At this point the radiation, Cytoxin, and ATG had wiped out my bone marrow and immune system completely.

On June 1st I received 10 million donor cells. I was pretty drowsy through the infusion because they pre-medicated me with Adavan (for nausea), Benadryl, and Tylenol to prevent an allergic reaction. Truth be told the transplant itself wasn't very exciting, but the little dance show my wife, mother, sister, and soon to be sister-in-law put on that morning was quite entertaining. They even wore orange - the Leukemia Ribbon color. For several days after the transplant I had to receive blood and or platelet transfusions because the donor cells take time to engraft so my blood counts remained very low. At this time I developed sores in my mouth and throat that made it difficult to eat.

Green means Go!
Mouth sores are nothing new to me, but the overwhelming nausea that has accompanied the transplant has been quite a battle. For a while they put me on a pain pump. This way I could push a nifty button when my pain started rising and I wouldn't have to call my nurse. If the light is green you may give it a pump. This was most helpful at night when my throat became dry and the sores were most painful. Although it has been rough, I have been uplifted through this experience. The genuine love and care shown by so many, even the old missionary who came in with his name tag upside-down and quoted scripture to me.

It has all added to a spirit of love and peace that I have felt everyday through this process. It has caused me to contemplate the word, "Remission". My cancer is in complete remission! Wow it feels good to say that out loud. To know that this terrible malady has been removed. 

It leads one to question what spiritual maladies they may be laden with? How good would it feel to say that they were in complete remission? How wonderful to know that they can be! And you don't have to take any toxic drugs or inject yourself with rabbit anti-bodies either. It just takes a seed of faith in the savior, and sincere repentance. The side effects I may add are also more favorable as they often include, loss of feelings of guilt, higher sense of self worth, increased confidence and righteousness - who doesn't want that!

With the way things are progressing I should be heading home in the next few days. It is still a long way to complete recovery but we can only hope things continue to move forward as they have. Thank you all for your love and prayers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transplant Time

Marshall has been super sick. I mean so sick that he doesn't have the energy to get on a computer.  He received the new bone marrow cells on Friday, June 1st. I can't even explain the range of emotions that overwhelmed us on his special second birthday. We received the good news that his donor, who will remain anonymous from us for at least another year, produced 24 million cells. That is a lot! In one bone marrow transplant the receiver can only have 10 million cells transplanted. There is plenty more bone marrow to work with from the primary source if needed in the future.

The American Red Cross box arrived and we were ecstatic! Although bone marrow transplants can be a surgery by drilling into the marrow it was not in this case.  In his case they were peripheral bone marrow cells so they went through his central line (this is the line that was surgically directed to a main valve by his heart when he was first diagnosed).

 The procedure isn't very interesting for some (it is for me- maybe because I studied about it way too much), but what happens before and after is really rough! If you would like to know more, my mother-in-law found a good link here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/understandingcancer/StemCells/AllPages

Marshall may be small, but he is tough. I coerced Mom Lucile and Melanie to do a little dance to cheer him up while Tori did the sign language for "Feelin' Good" by Michael Buble (one of Marshall's favorite artists).
 Orange is the Leukemia ribbon color :).

video

Here are a few photos from transplant day. I would like to be able to one day show these to Marshall's donor so he knows what hope his selfless sacrifice gave to our little family.




That same day Kelly moved out (oh how we already miss her little munchkins' air fives, air hugs, and entertainment), Tori moved in and Kez got his first hair cut. The hair cut was an accident- Elizabeth did not know and called me saying, AH was this his first!? Yep I said, but at least he didn't fall down and cut his lip open or something.  Here are some pictures before and after his hair cut. You know how people always make the before shots really bad? Like with weight loss programs or makeovers, etc.? That's what I did here. The first one he's looking away and has a little scratch on his head. Just using a little advertising trick to make the after look better :).




Tons of emotions and physical challenges occurring right now, but I would have to say I have had such a care free life up until now. Trials can be blessings and we have had so many of both that we are completely overwhelmed. Those who have stepped forward for us right now even when their lives aren't going perfectly as planned have been such an amazing strength. Thank you friends, family, and selfless people. We are humbled.

Marshall's new bone marrow will take at the very least 2 weeks to engraft. Maybe 4. Maybe 8. Until then he gets blood and platelet transfusions regularly. More gifts from selfless, anonymous, wonderful people. Then more complications with graft vs. host disease. Hopefully they are small and the leukemia does not come back for the next five years. Much love and gratitude from us to you for caring and sharing our journey with us! Hopefully Marshall feels well enough to post again soon since he's the real teller of his very real experience.