Stab Me 100 Times, Then Radiate


Just got home from a long afternoon at the hopsital. Jo Ann and I met with my oncologist for a consent meeting to discuss the upcoming Bone Marrow operation on my pelvis on May 5th. They will need to collect 1.5 liters of bone marrow, which will require them to puncture my pelvic bone 100 times. Same bone marrow biopsy procedure I’ve had done before, just times one hundred – no sweat! Depending on how I do, I could possibly go home the same day or only be in the hospital one night. I will, however, be unable to walk for two weeks during my recovery. Time to go shopping for a cane.

The most disappointing part of our meeting came when we were told that on May 9th, I will need to begin radiation therapy (a 3 week course, Mon thru Fri). I had initially thought that radiation was something that was optional or up for discussion, but my oncologist said that I need to have limited field radiation in the mediastinum because I relapsed in that same spot. I have great fear of radiation, so I’m a bit freaked out right now to say the least. This is not at all what I was expecting.

GAHD! Now they’re going to stab me 100 times AND radiate me. So, as of now, the remainder of my treatment timeline is adjusted to this:

1) May 5th: Bone Marrow Operation to Harvest Stem Cells from Pelvis

2) May 9th: Radiation Therapy (3 weeks, Mon thru Fri)

3) High-Dose Chemo & Stem Cell Transplantation (This is the main event, and I will be in the hospital for 4-6 weeks followed by 4 weeks of house arrest. Start date depends on whether I need time to recover from radiation, but should start almost immediately after completion of radiation therapy.)

4) SGN35 Clinical Trial (16 cycles of IV medication given every 3 weeks for one year. SGN35 is a new wonder drug for relapsed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Dr Kaplan is the principal investigator. I’m lucky to be at UCSF where the study is being led and to qualify. Although I might receive the placebo, it’s worth taking the chance.)

The reason why I need to have radiation before the stem cell transplant is that in order to be included in the SGN35 study, I need to begin participating in the study 45 days after transplant. If I have radiation after transplant, then I will not have recovered in time to begin SGN35.

Well, another full day as a cancer patient! Every time I go in to meet with my oncologist I know there is a 50 percent chance of another surprise development. Cancer ain’t fun, that’s for sure. Please help me to pray for the courage to overcome my fears of receiving radiation, for the faith to surrender, and for good providers to be put in my path.

Thank you so much to Jo Ann for accompanying me and helping me to ask the right questions and keep it together through the scary stuff!

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