Today my bone marrow turns 100 days old. In stem cell transplant circles that’s a milestone. To celebrate my wife and friends have organized a blood drive and I’m hoping there will be cake. Earlier I posted a video of the effects of chemo. Today I post the “completed” video that shows the changes from the start of the transplant process to today. I’m no prettier, but at least I have eyebrows.
For those who have asked about how I’m feeling, an update: I am feeling very good. My energy (and beard) is back. My stomach is back to what it was before the treatments (which was never good, but at least manageable). My toes still tingle and hurt from peripheral neuropathy –likely a reminder of chemo I will have for the foreseeable future.
My white blood cells, an indication of my immune system’s strength, are in the normal range. So I still need to be very careful of what I eat, I need to stay away from sick folks, and avoid recycled air in airplanes. However, as many have noted, I am able to get out and about.
My platelets – their precipitous drop started the whole Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis – are over 100 and approaching normal. The doctor even gave me the all clear to start rollerblading again (with a helmet and all the pads).
I put the word completed above in quotes because, of course, I’m not done. Next week I have another PET scan to see if there are any remnants of the cancer. The hope, of course, is that the scan will be clean. The reality is that it will probably have some ambiguity. The possibility is that the cancer is not gone and there will be more treatments (radiation, chemo). Here’s the thing, even if the scan comes back clean, those three possibilities – clean, ambiguous, and bad – will be with me for years to come.
Still, in the face of the old Yiddish saying “Man plans and God laughs,” I’m taking my own advice, and continuing on. I go to work, I write grants, I schedule appointments past one month. Every time I put something on the calendar more than a month away I have this feeling that I’m setting myself up, but I do it anyway. Maybe after the PET Scan I’ll do it with a feeling of “screw you cancer,” but we shall see.