I have been prompted to write this post, as I have had very recent contact with at least three people that have had stem cell transpants, and are all going through different emotions currently. This is something that I have experienced twice now myself, and have encountered many people that have also had one.
A stem cell transplant is an option which is considered for various cancer conditions. For example, for types of leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. As a rule, it is not often a first-line treatment. Conventional chemotherapy or other treatments tend to be used first. However, the treatment of cancer and leukaemia is a changing and developing area of medicine. Techniques such as stem cell transplant continue to be refined and improved and may be considered in various different circumstances.
The higher doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy that can be used in conjunction with a stem cell transplant can improve the chance of a cure for some conditions in certain circumstances.
For the patient, there are a lot of things to be considered, such as risk of death during transplant, and side effects. If you are younger, there are things like fertility issues. Once you become older, the risk of dying during the processs increases. If not directly from the process but infection related disease afterwards.
If you are not in reasonable health to start with, you may not even be offered a transplant as the risks may be too high. Even if you are lucky enough to be considered, you will need to find a matched donor. Sometimes people are lucky enough to have sibling donors, but if not, The Anthony Nolan Trust, will be checked for a suitable donor.
As your body clock is ticking, there are so many things that can go wrong. There is even a chance that you can relapse before you get your new cells. Once the process starts, you will be in an isolation unit, for anything between 4-6 weeks. This is because once your bown marrow starts to die, with the dose of chemo it is given, then you are very vulnerable to disease and infection. in a similar way that a new born baby has a very low immune system.
That time is a very lonely time!! Not knowing if you will live or die. Not being able to eat much, and not knowing if you should be on the toilet, or have your head over a sink. Feeling so tired you can hardly move.What will the future hold for you? How many times can you thank your donor, for the gift of life?
All that going on for you. imagine how your family and friends are feeling? That process for me was a life changing thing. Very difficult to explain unless you have experienced it. Unfortunately, some of my fellow journeymen have passed away since our journey started, but I know that they were grateful for the extra life that they were given.
I would like to end this post by thanking all the people who donate anything, to help others, and a special thanks to my donor, who is out there somewhere, getting on with his young life. Thank you, just doesn't seem enough!!