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6/23/2016 Latest post:
I was first diagnosed on tax day of 2009. After chemo therapy, I had my first stem cell transplant in spring of 2010 to treat the multiple myeloma. That was 1 very unpleasant month, 2 months of feeling sick, and another 2 months of feeling relatively normal before I returned to teach the 2010-11 school year at Steven's Middle School. That treatment bought me four years of drug free living. The past 2 1/2 years, other than the first six months of that time, I have had relatively low levels of regular chemo therapy to keep the multiple myeloma at a low level in my blood. The hope was that I could use chemo to stay healthy so that I could teach without interruption through Patrick's 8th grade year at Mark Twain. Mission Accomplished! As of right now, my blood work looks great. The drugs I am using to treat the MM are still effective. Finally, new drugs are being developed which appear to be friendlier and potent.
Kristen and I decided that this would be a good time to do a second stem cell transplant with the hope of no or very low levels of drugs for a few years. After that, the new, friendlier therapies might also be available. I will be taking the first semester of the next school year off. There is a lot of hope for the future, but my next step, although one I have traveled before, will not always be pleasant.
Proposed Treatment Schedule
Thanks for visiting! This site served us well in 2010 during my first stem cell transplant providing an avenue for easy communication for Kristen and me. Sharing the experience with others and receiving your support makes it a tad easier.
I am scheduled to receive the heavy chemo on July 6th and 7th. On July 8th, I am to receive an infusion of my own stem cells which were harvested in the spring of 2010. After that, I wait.
The chemo will kill my existing stem cells meaning as my RBCs and WBCs and platelets die, there will be no way my body can replace them until my own inserted stem cells "kick in." Thus, I am going to become more and more immuno-compromised and my hematocrit and energy level will continue to drop.
The first few weeks during my last stem cell transplant were unpleasant with nausea, vomiting, profound fatigue and fevers. I really did not enjoy food much because of the damage the chemo does to my digestive system until perhaps a month later. I am hoping that familiarity with the process will make this easier.
The best guess today is that I will be at OHSU for two to three weeks, and then return home to heal for the rest of the summer and into the fall. After I return home I will be going back up to OHSU regularly for treatments; several days a week initially then less frequently until my immune system and cell counts are stable.
What can you do?
Kristen and I intend to update this blog with my progress throughout this adventure. Check in for an update.
Besides your prayers and good thoughts, we always appreciate messages/ pictures/ video links that encourage, make us laugh, or update us on your world if we are not that well in touch with you.
If there are specific things that are needed besides that, (rides, food, visits) Kristen or I will reach out to individuals and ask. So many of you have made it clear that you are willing to help! Receiving messages like that make us feel truly blessed!
May Arizona Retreat
In May of this year, I went to a MROP retreat (Men Rite of Passage) in Aravaipa Canyon, Arizona. My intention was to help get my head and heart and attitude right for this second plunge into the pool. One of the metaphors that has stuck with me is that the light cannot get in if there are no cracks in the porcelain. God communicates with us through our trials. At least as of today, that theme has given me some peace as I have better accepted the power and beauty of that truth.