Last week I recovered well from the previous weeks' Chemo. I had minimal side effects. Mainly just very tired.
Here is a summary of my current situation:
The first 6 months of chemo got the cancer in my blood and bone marrow down from 82% to 0.1% (6 rounds). The goal was to get it to zero after 4 of scheduled 8 rounds, then keep it at zero 'til 8 rounds were finished. However, since I still have 0.1% after 6 rounds, the doctors concluded to stop the final 2 rounds, start me on another Chemo, and prepare for bone marrow transplant. It is tough dealing with the fact that we were so close to getting this cured without the transplant. However, the chance of relapse is considerably less after a transplant. Also, a transplant requires less than 5% (preferably 0%) cancer before proceeding - so those first 6 months were necessary and not a waste of time.
Bone Marrow transplant:
The first step is to find the donor. Testing concluded last week showed my brother as partial match. Next, they look for a perfect match (this would be preferred over my brother) at the Unrelated Donor Pool. This is an international registry of over 12 million donors. Testing revealed that I have a rather common type of genetics that fortunately resulted in about 400 potential perfect matches from the initial search. This week, they will start more tests for a more detailed search that should filter that 400 down quite a bit. It is a very specialized, scientific process that is quite involved. SCCA (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance) is one the best places in the world for this. They do about 500 transplants per year.
After the donor is found, I will undergo many tests to determine if I am healthy enough to handle the transplant. When the transplant starts, they give me several days of very strong Radiation and Chemo to wipe out my current bone marrow. Then the donated bone marrow (or stem cells) are transfused into my veins (just like a blood transfusion). From this point, it will take 2-4 weeks for the new cells to start producing white blood cells and basically "replacing" my old bone marrow. They say about 90 days after the transplant is when I start to get back to "normal".