Another post from the original blog I created while Chris was recovering from his bone marrow transplant.
Well, day 100 has come and is almost gone and Chris is still kicking furiously! I admit I had my doubts he would be here to see this day come but his stubborn conviction worked in his favor and, thankfully, proved me wrong. When he went through the first transplant, his treatment team, friends, family, and even he, himself, were both surprised and impressed by how well his system responded to his new stem cells. While he did experience bad days, they were only a few, and mostly associated with the “nasty” chemo they gave him just prior to the transplant. He regained his energy, stamina, weight, and immune system fairly quickly and his recovery was fairly smooth. Within just a couple of months of his transplant, he had made arrangements to return to work as a chef at his old restaurant and life was looking bright and hopeful. Then the bottom fell out.
On July 28, 2009, while I was at work, I received a phone call from one of his doctors. Chris didn’t answer his phone that morning, so with a sense of urgency, the doctor called me on my cell. I ignored the first two calls, but decided to answer the third, reasoning that the caller was pretty determined. Unfortunately, I was correct.
For all the adulations about Chris’s post-transplant progress, it was all in vain. 68 days post-transplant, his AML had returned and the doctors wanted him to come in that day for confirmatory tests. I refused to be the one to break the news to him and instead, vaguely gave him the impression that the blood tests were messed up and needed to be repeated. I took him to the hospital so he wouldn’t be alone when they delivered the inevitable. Those few hours with him while they ran the tests was the longest and most exhausting exercise in self-control I think I have ever endured. When the doctor came in and gave us the news, all that pent up energy came pouring out of my tear ducts while he sat there and quietly took it in. He calmly asked, “OK, so what do we do now?”
That one day, that one phone call, changed something inside me. For the first time since his diagnosis, I experienced the feeling of hopelessness. Prior to his relapse, I forced myself to imagine what life would be like without my best friend in it. I kept telling myself I had to be ready to deal with any outcome possible just so I wouldn’t be completely thrown for a loop if he lost this battle; however, I always thought he would make it. This relapse forced me to face the reality that a fairytale ending might not be in the cards for him, and for lack of a more articulate descriptor-it sucked!
Since his BMT, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath, waiting
for the other shoe to drop. This transplant was a whole different ball game compared to his first one. Since the transplanted cells came from a matched, unrelated donor (instead of from himself as with the first one), patients undergoing this type of treatment, recovery is knowingly fraught with complication, uncomfortable and annoying side-effects, fatigue, and just overall feeling like crap for quite some time. His progress after this transplant was favorable (relatively speaking), and with the exception of a few bumps in the road, he handled it pretty well.
He is definitely not out of the woods and still has a long way to go, but yesterday was definitely another win for him. At this point, the only thing friends, family, and we can do is continue channeling positive energy toward the ultimate goal: him responding favorably to the transplant and overcoming this disease.