Welcome! Thanks for loving on our Art. He's strong, determined and beloved- This will be where we keep our friends and family updated on Art's medical care. Feel free to leave notes here that we can share with Art to help keep his spirits high.
Here are some details on Art's condition:
His diagnosis is MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome). It's also called "pre-leukemia" and if it progresses, it can turn into leukemia. The majority of MDS cases result from prior cancer treatments earlier in life. (Art had 2 other cancer experiences earlier in his life.) Art's options for fighting MDS are limited and his best option is this next step: Stem Cell Transplant (also called a Bone Marrow Transplant.) The goals of the transplant is to replace his bone marrow DNA with healthy cells so that his systems can produce healthy cells for many many many more years.
He's being treated at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. On January 2nd, Art was admitted to start his transplant process. With Stem Cell Transplants, they operate differently than organ transplants. In this process, he will spend about a month in the hospital, then he will be released to a local space called Hope Lodge where he'll recover for at least 100 days post-transplant.
The process of the transplant: He'll spend a week getting intense chemo. (They've warned us that it will be the worst chemo he's ever experienced.) The goal of the chemo is to kill his current bone marrow, which will destroy his immune system. Then he'll receive a bag of stem cells from an unrelated donor, (all we know is that it's from a male in another country). The stem cells will get to work in his body to graft into his bones and build a new system. The weeks after he receives his stem cells, his body will work to accept the new cells and respond to the chemo. We won't know how his body will respond to the process until we're in it. His medical team will do their best to manage his reactions and keep him as healthy as possible, but the process will not be easy.
After his body has started to accept the cells and his medical team feels confident that's he's eating, drinking, talking and walking, Art will be discharged to continue his care in St. Louis at Hope Lodge- which is a group housing nearby the hospital where Art can stay until the doctors release him to go back to Joplin safely.
During and after the transplant, Art's immune system will be compromised, so he will avoid public spaces and any possible viruses. A simple virus could become life-threatening for him. Even after he returns home, we'll try our best to control his environment to keep him well. Post transplant bodies are compared to the vulnerability of a newborn baby. (He'll even have to get his childhood immunizations again after his has fresh bone marrow!)
It will be a challenging road ahead, but we know Art and we know that if anybody can handle this, it's him. He keeps saying "I'm ready!" and we know he is.