this is the latest from my friend john… please keep him in your thoughts and prayers this week!!
It has been just over two weeks since I was released from the hospital and I have probably gained 15 pounds. I started lifting weights and hitting the bags to rebuild lost muscle and prepare for the next round. I actually felt pretty good working out, especially hitting the bags. It is interesting that no matter how much muscle mass your body looses it still has the ability to punch with power.
My brother Frank flew in from New Jersey last week to donate his stem cells for me. They ran him through a host of tests to medically qualify him as a donor. He passed all tests with flying colors. It is a miracle not just that he passed, but also that he is even alive to donate his stem cells to me. My brother is 21 years older then me, fought in Viet Nam as a United States Marine with First Force Recon, contracted malaria while there (both kinds), has two purple hearts and a silver star and should have died 20 times since serving his country. This is probably not the typical profile of the average stem cell donor.
After passing all the tests at the hospital he started to self administer shots of Neupogen which is an injection used to boost the production of white blood cells. He has been giving himself three shots in the stomach every night before bed for the last three nights. These are the same shots that I received to boost my counts before leaving the hospital. My brother and I shared a laugh today about one of the side effects that the shots have. Usually at two or three in the morning you will experience bone pain in the lower spinal column. It is a unique type of pain where the spine is pulsing with sharp intervals of pain that shoot up to the back of the head along with bone pain in the legs and ribs. The pain is accompanied by a shortness of breath that makes you question exactly how many breaths you will have left. My brother compared it to the baseball bat beating scene from the movie Casino. I guess I forgot to mention that side effect to big brother before he volunteered.
On Wednesday he will have finished with the shots and they are going to implant an access line into his carotid artery in his neck and will start harvesting stem cells the next day. He will be hooked up to a machine that takes the blood out of his body filtering out his stem cells and then pumps his blood back in. The whole process is very similar to dialysis. They will then freeze his stem cells until they are ready to implant them into my body.
I had my last bone marrow tap just over a week ago to see if any of the cancer had reformed in my bone marrow. The results came back yesterday 100% clear of any cancer once again. The doctors want to hit me soon while I am clean so they are fast tracking my final round of chemo and implant. I had hoped for more time to rebuild my body and prepare for this next round but they feel it is important to strike now. So I am ready now.
I will start Round 3 a week from Thursday on 9/3. I will do a full round of high dose chemo for 7 days 24 hours a day and then they will perform the stem cell transplant. I could be in the hospital anywhere from three weeks to three months after the transplant. These past couple weeks have reminded me that there are too many things on the outside that I will miss if I am spending too much time on the inside. I plan on making this a quick and successful round.
Expect good things.
“If you like to win, but think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out of the world, we find
Success begins with a person’s will.
It’s all in your state of mind.
If you think you are out classed, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise…
You’ve got to be sure of yourself,
Before you can win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster person;
But sooner or later the one who wins…
Is the one who thinks….I can!”