Sunday, October 12, 2014

Donating Blood

Since this crazy saga began back in April, Wanda (mom) has received countless numbers of blood transfusions both in Nashville as well as in Chattanooga. Well, to be clear, I'm sure it's not that many - it can be counted - but, still - it's a good number. She goes once or twice a week to have a complete blood count (CBC) done and, depending on what her numbers are, the doctors decide to give her either packed red blood cells, platelets, or both. The packed red blood cells boost her hemoglobin, allowing her blood to carry more oxygen throughout her body. The platelets allow her blood to clot when necessary. On the days when she receives a transfusion, she just gets to sit in a chair and pass the time either in a private room or with 3 of her not-so-closest (random) friends.

My cousin Mandi recognized mom's thirst for blood and had a great idea to surprise mom by getting people to donate blood for her 65th birthday. If you are signed up to receive email updates from the blog, you should have received an email about it. Anyway, I'm happy to say that a good number of you donated (blood or cash) and sent pictures and we made a collage of all the pics we could find (sorry if any were left off!). One of mom's friends even made it into the local newscast while donating.

Personally, I hadn't donated blood since college, so I approached the donation with trepidation. However, it turned out to be relatively painless and very quick (less than 25 minutes) and I was left wondering why I hadn't been more giving of my blood in the past. It's satisfying to know that a simple donation of blood can go and keep someone like my mom healthy. So - go, donate!

Wanda's Warriors

Saturday, October 4, 2014

All roads lead to . . .

What exciting weeks we have had!  A visit from Callie and Davis, my fun birthday, and then Case, Sophie, and Patrick invaded our lives two weeks ago!  They arrived on September 19 (a chemo week), and I got to go to the hospital from the 23rd-26th. I had a neutropenic fever, a common event with low white cell counts. The silver lining (always on the lookout for one) about that was the doctors gave me lots of antibiotics so that I was able to make the trip to Boston from the 27th-Oct. 1 with no problems. If you wear a mask and act slightly informed, Delta can be really nice to you . . . just saying!
The reason for the trip to Boston was an appointment with Dr. Soiffer at Dana Faber Cancer Center. I was dreading it, expecting more grim news. He could sense that we already knew the grim news, so Dr. Stiffer focused on hopeful news. The bottom line, however, is not what I wanted to hear--that any path to "healing" involves another stem cell transplant or a leukocyte infusion. Either would involve revisiting my original donor. He gave me some reasons why the transplant had relapsed and his ideas to remedy the possibility if I chose a second procedure.
He had several trials that he thought might be helpful in getting me into remission, which is necessary for either procedure.  He was helpful and suggested plans of action, but there are many "ifs" to be dealt with, like
--Will another month or two of Dacogen put me into remission????
--When do I give up on Dacogen and perhaps join a trial group?
--If no lesser remedy works, am I willing to do the 7-3 chemo to get me into remission?
--If I have another stem cell transplant, would I go back to Vandy?  Boston? Atlanta?

Meanwhile, I'm feeling pretty good and looking forward to all the family being here for Kit's wedding October 18. On October 20, the reprieve is over and it's time for another round of dacogen.
Thanks for all the positive thoughts you send our way. We feel them, and we know you're there with us hoping for maybe just a tiny miracle.