Next Monday 9 July will mark the fifth anniversary of my successful stem cell transplant for Myeloma - a type of bone marrow cancer, which I was diagnosed with in 2007. A stem cell transplant you say? What the heck is that?
Here's the science bit: A stem cell transplant means they trick your stem cells and get them circulating outside your bone marrow and in your blood. Then they harvest them by using a very fancy machine that you have to stay wired up to for at least one and possibly three days. They take the blood out and grab the little stem cells and then give you back your blood. It's all very technical and incredibly cutting edge.
That's part one of the process. Part two involves loading you with very toxic chemo which will wipe out your bone marrow and after a few days they try to rescue you from the cancer and the effects of the chemo by giving you back your own stem cells back via a transplant using the same little line into your chest. [Did I mention that the line has to be surgically inserted before anything else happens? No, well it does!]
The stem cells are given back and they are supposed to move into the bone marrow and set up home for themselves and turn into red cells, white cells and platelets! By using your own stem cells, it cuts down on the risk of rejection and the hope then is that the stem cells replace all the good cells that the bone marrow cancer had exterminated!
So that in essence is a very unscientific description of what a stem cell transplant is. That is what I had this month back in July 2007.
Did I mention that you tend to get very pukey during it? No? Well you do! I certainly did.
But here I am just about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant and I was wondering how I should celebrate? A trip? Flowers? Something EPIC? A treat? Some jewellery? No, none of the aforementioned.
I think I will keep it simple and just enjoy doing all the things I could not do during my time in hospital in July 2007 when I was gravely ill and when for a four week period:
I could not leave the room
I could not work
I could not eat
I could not drink
I could not see my kids
I could not spend time with my husband or go for dinner
I could not stand for long periods
I could not talk for a couple of days
I could not feel fresh air on my face
I could not walk to the shop
I could not see friends
I could not see my cat
I could not sit on my own chair
I could not look at food without feeling nausea
I could not pray
I could not hope
I could not live my ordinary life
I could not see a future
So five year's later I am going to keep the celebration simple because I can do all those simple things that I maybe took for granted for so long. Next Monday 9 July, the fifth anniversary of my stem cell transplant:
I will get up and go out and about
I will go to work
I will eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea
I will spend as much time as I like with my gorgeous kids
I will plan a meal out with my hubby
I will stand, run, jump, cycle
I will stand outside and feel the fresh air and most likely rain on my face
I will walk to the shop
I will rub the cat and hear her soothing purrs
I will sit on any chair I want to
I will delight in looking at food as I plan dinner
I will continue to pray
I will continue to be hopeful
I will live my ordinary life to the full
and most importantly
I will imagine, no, I will plan a future for myself!
Happy Myeloma anniversary to anyone who is kicking this type of cancer's butt. Hang in there and please God in our lifetime there will be a cure.