Ok..for real…let the stem cell begin

Hello again.

I realized that I probably left most of you thinking that I was already in the hospital in the middle of my stem cell treatment. Alas. This is not the case. I had a detour on my way there, but I’m back on track.

Two weeks ago I had one final PET scan to make sure everything was hunkey-dorey in my chest. But things are not hunkey-dorey. I have a small hotspot where my trachea divides, near my bronchial tubes, just to the left of the Isles of Langerhans (okay, that last one is a deep inside joke). I think this little spot is attached to, but not part of, the large mass in my chest. That large mass, by the way, is completely PET negative, which is a good thing. But what is this little, vague spot?

I consulted with a surgeon and a pulmonary doctor to see if they could reach the spot and get biopsy. For a number of reasons – involving the risk of cutting my chest open to get at this little spot, the risk of catastrophic failure if they accidentally puncture any of my major vessels, the difficult location of the little spot and the lack of tissue that a needle biopsy would provide – they can’t get it. At least not in way that would provide satisfactory results or not possibly kill me.

During this time I also got my stem cells harvested – in 1 day! For some people it can take up to a week or more, but I guess my bone marrow was highly motivated. I got a catheter put in my chest, went to harvesting and got the catheter taken out after the weekend. I’m left with my trusty PICC line in my arm…and I’m grateful that I don’t have any other tubes coming out of me.

So, after that little hiatus, the ‘committee’ decided that I should continue into my stem cell treatment after all. I’m not sure who exactly is on my ‘committee’ – my oncologist, the stem cell transplant coordinator, Jack Bauer, C. Everett Coop, the ghost of Jonas Salk and possibly my grandmom (affectionately known as Doc Julie). Whoever they are, they are unanimous in their decision. So away I go.

I’m admitted into the hospital on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

I get chemo for 6 days, followed by a day of rest.

On Nov. 10, I get my stem cells infused back into me. This is referred to as Day 0.

I spend another 1 1/2 to 2 weeks in the hospital, feeling like crap and under observation in semi-isolation. When my white counts creep above 50, I can go home.

My food will all be processed and sterilized. I can’t take a shower as any germs or chemicals in the pipes might get aerated and I might breathe them in (I can take gentle baths). I will brush my teeth with a sponge on a stick. I will work on my grad school assignments as best I can. I will play PS3 and watch movies. I will be patient. I will meditate. I will read. I will walk around the hospital floor to keep my blood flowing (I can’t leave the floor at all). I can have visitors, although they have to be not-at-all sick and not-at-all have been around anyone sick. No physical contact (except maybe feet rubs). No outside food unless approved by doctors. No plants.

Sounds like a vacation, eh?

I’ve been through some pretty bad chemo in the past few months so I think I’m pretty prepared for what’s to come. The worst part will be being trapped in the hospital for 3 weeks. I think I go crazy without fresh air, too many fluorescent lights and not being able to see farther than the opposite wall.

But breathing will help. Lots of deep breathing.

I’ll keep in touch and let you know how it goes.

Let the countdown begin.


18 responses to “Ok..for real…let the stem cell begin

  1. Thanks for the update, Steve. Your strength and determination, your will to get up and keep going – I admire it. In my own way, I have had things happen that have been discouraging. But you’re full of piss and vinegar. I love you, man.

  2. Steve, With all this incredibly complicated process to go through and the unimaginable patience and courage that has helped you live through this, I can only see you being able to climb steep mountains and finish with flying colors on the finish line, as you accomplish your dreams that you long for. Hooray, hooray!! We are all with you ! We love you!

  3. So glad to hear you can keep moving forward, and that this small hotspot doesn’t have your team concerned enough to bring everything to a halt. Onward and upward my friend!

  4. Good luck with everything in the next couple of weeks. Too bad the Phillies couldn’t pull through and provide you with some entertainment!

  5. Go go steve! Thank you for sharing your brave and determined thoughts. We miss you and will be rooting for you through your days of reflection, meditation, and PS3.

  6. There are no words for how awesome you and your beautiful wife are. No words.

  7. Rah Rah Rah!
    Go Steve Go!

    Thinking of you and your amazing wife right now.
    When this is all over, we will have our real life face to face Fa / Dickberry meetup. I. Promise.


  8. —–!!!!!

  9. We are all thinking of you. Love J, C and lil m

  10. Dearest Steve, Wishing you the very very best of health and my love to you and Jen. I am so sorry that you are having to go through all this torture.

  11. Hey. I am a complete stranger but fellow “Hodger” who has been following your blog from Liverpool, England. I just wanted to say good luck for the next few weeks. I’ll be thinking of you.

  12. Thinking of you from Australia. This is your cure!

  13. Hi Steve, just to let you know the 4SW crew here in Santa Monica is rooting for you in your next battle. Best regards to you and Jen.

  14. Steve, Hang tough. I made it through transplant floor in 18 days. You can do it. Walk as many laps as you can. Stan’s Donuts will be waiting for you when you get out. Be strong. Raifie

  15. Been thinking of you all day. You are a brave and courageous little feffel!! Stay strong, stay calm – one day at a time is the motto!!
    I am here for you both if you need to reach out, anytime of the day or night.
    Love, Aunt Janet

  16. Thank goodness for your strong will and determination! They will see you thru this next chapter with amazing results. So many people from Philly and Reading area are with you. Love you and Jen so very much! Love, Mom and Joe

  17. Steve,
    I am breathing deeply with you. Think about you guys every day! Sending you guys lots of love and some germ free hugs. Excellent news that they harvested in one day.
    Thanks for keeping up with the blog and filling us all in.
    xoxoxo jessi j.

  18. Love you steve!!!!!!!!
    Love you too Jen!!!!!

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