Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big Day at Tulane.... good news, though overwhelming!

Tulane Cancer Center, March 5th, 2009

Well, it was quite an overwhelming day.

Stem Cell Transplant is right around the corner. We have another appointment with Dr. Safah, as well as an Aredia infusion scheduled in 4 weeks. (April 2nd)

Dr. Safah is delighted with Dom's progress. He gained 5 pounds last month. His Myeloma Cells are almost gone. Full speed ahead for the transplant.

She gave us some enlightening numbers. Dom asked her “what if” he just continued the Thalidomide treatment without a transplant. I jumped in and asked her to pretend that Dom was her brother or husband.....

She said that it wasn't even a consideration.

Recently (?) they took 100 MM patients and did only Thalidomide. We'll call them “team A”.

They took another 100 MM patients and did the transplant. We'll call them “team B”.

They followed these folks closely. After 3 years the results were eye-opening......

Team A had 20 patients (20%) who were clean from Myeloma.

Team B had 60 patients (60%) who were clean.

More numbers: Aredia infusions are running $4300 per month. Thalidomide is running $4000 per month. Can you imagine how horrible it would be with no medical insurance?

The gal who used to be her nurse, Amy, is now the Coordinator of the Stem Cell Transplant team. She came in with a binder full of info to prepare us.

Theoretically, when we go in next month, Doc will do another M-Cell test, and then start scheduling the transplant.

OK..... here's what they told us today.

Before we get back there in a month, Dom has to get a clean bill-of-health from his dentist. They want his mouth in wonderful shape. (I need to look into that.....I've heard that heart patients have to be weary of their mouths as well).

Tulane will then do a COMPLETE workup on Dom. 10 vials of blood to test for EVERY imagineable disease. Heart check, all vital organs.... the complete physical.

Then, we have to meet with a psychologist. He'll be very isolated, and they want to be certain that he has moral support..

Then comes “mobilization”. They'll stick a tube in his chest.... think catheter. For 10 days he'll be on medication to move the stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood stream.

After 10 days, they'll start pulling out blood....grabbing stem cells and pumping the rest back into him. (sounds similar to dialysis).

When they have the stem cells that they need, they'll freeze them.

Dom will then be hit with SERIOUS Chemotherapy that will “wipe out his bone marrow..... white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets”.

They'll then use the same chest catheter to pump in his clean stem cells.

We can expect a minimum of 3 weeks in the hospital. There are cases when the patient ends up there for 2-3 months. Because that blast of chemo will kill all of the cells in the bone marrow, he'll have no white cells which battle infection. They're telling us not to freak out over mouth sores (there we go with the mouth again) and infections. That could extend hospitalization.

Then upon getting a clean bill of health, the 2 of us will move into a “halfway house” connected to the hospital. I'll have to be with him 24 hours a day. This will be a couple of weeks.

I'll post about the “move home” tomorrow.

Love you guys.... thanks for all of the wonderful calls and emails!

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