I start preparatory chemo tomorrow at noon. This time the drug is Fludarabine. According to Wikipedia, "Fludarabine inhibits DNA syntheses by interfering with ribonucleotide reductase and DNA polymerase." I'm not really sure what that means, but my incredibly intelligent wife (biology major) could explain it to you if you'd like.
The good news is that my doctor told me the dose is small enough that I should be able to keep my hair this time! I am scheduled for chemo infusions Mon-Wed. I also have radiation on Wed (a very small dose compared to last year). I get a break for the 4th of July and my transplant is scheduled for the 5th.
The reason the chemo and radiation isn't as extreme as last year is that my transplant is going to be a little different. We have a new donor - perfect match again - but this time I will undergo a "non-myeloblative" transplant. This means that we are not counting on the chemo and radiation to kill off any cancer cells that may be lurking. The preparatory regiment is only to weaken my immune system so that the transplant can engraft. Basically we are counting on the donor cells to kill any cancer that's hiding or tries to come back. This is called the graft versus leukemia effect. On the other side the transplant can also fight my body, this is called graft versus host disease.
After our family transplant consultation with my doctor my Father-In-Law asked, "Have you been practicing your tight-rope-walking?"
It's going to be quite a tight rope walk starting next week! I am grateful for the amazing support system that I have. Thank you again to everyone who has been so kind, and charitable to my family. I know that I am not alone in this trial. I understand how busy life can get; often it almost feels like we are in a race or contest. I appreciate the many who have taken time out of their busy schedules to serve me and my family. In closing I'd like to share with you a dream a had a few nights after we arrived home from Houston.
Last night I dreamed a dream. The details of which are now obscure. What I do remember is this.
At the commencement of the dream I was amidst a contest. In front of me was something very desirable. The other contestants were standing in a line with me and they also had an object of great desire before them. The object itself was locked somehow – not necessarily by a key but by some puzzle or riddle. The object and the puzzle seemed to be different for each person. More desirable than the prize before me was to be the first one to crack the code – there was a glory in it. Over a loud speaker a voice was urging everyone to hurry, hurry and be the first – to win the race.
Although I didn’t know what being the first would bring me I really wanted to win! It seemed I used all my mental capacities and physical skill to solve the puzzle or “open the box” before me. My efforts were fruitless and I began to despair.
Soon I noticed a commotion. One contestant had left their station and had began to walk down the line and “open other peoples boxes” – I wondered how one person could be so innovative as to know how to solve so many puzzles that nobody else could? I watched in amazement, and wondered why this individual hadn’t been announced the winner. It was then I realized that their box, their riddle, their dilemma had not been solved.
Epiphany, I left my station and began to “open up boxes” for others with ease. Down the line I went and soon others began to do the same. The voice on the loudspeaker was shouting as if we had broken the rules and would be disqualified. It didn’t matter though, those who had been served were happy and those who served even happier. They had attained the object of desire, not alone but together and for eachother.