Today was a good day. I had a rough night sleep, anxious about what they would say at the appointment today. I'm my mother's daughter, I worry. I was trying not to get all excited about the "Perfect Match" that Dad's transplant coordinator (Lori) told him about on Monday. I was trying to prepare myself that the Bone Marrow Team would tell us Dad was not well enough for the transplant.
But all that changed about 9:45. Prior to our meeting with Dr Jones and Team, Dad did a pulmonary test and did pretty well for a guy with COPD, probably a bit of lingering pneumonia and still recovering from chemo. Mom and I could barely keep up with him walking around the hospital from the lab to the cardiopulmonary center to the Stem Cell department. Such a change from 2 weeks ago when he was slow moving walking with a cane. He was walking like that guy that used to walk 10ks!
Dr Jones PA (Richard) confirmed all the good news we'd heard from Lori and also said he'd (barely) passed the lung function test for the clinical trial they want to put him in... the STEM CELL TRANSPLANT trial. He's ready, we have a perfect match, its time!
Dr Jones spoke with us at length and answered all our questions. He would like to push the Transplant Center to make this happen FAST, like in 4-5 weeks. He's trying to keep Dad from doing another round of maintenance chemo so that he can continue to gain weight and can continue to exercise and can continue to get stronger. He needs to be STRONG physically. He doesn't care about Dad's blood counts (that are low)... he's going to kill all those before the transplant anyway. He just needs dad to fatten up and get his lungs as healthy as he can. We can do this!
He explained that dad fits well into a clinical trial that they are studying using existing combo of chemo but in a different sequence that they believe will improve effectiveness while reducing toxicity. Since Dad had such a rough go of the last round of chemo, is older, etc, they think this is the right path for him. He has to have 50% lung function and he squeaked in at 51%. They think that will continue to go up as he continues to gain strength so they are not worried he wont qualify.
We will also have to wait to make sure his Leukemia doctor doesn't object and thinks he's okay to go 4 more weeks with no chemo. It's possible he could still start the new drug if that works out but we don't know any details on that yet.
Lori will let us know this week on dates. They will ask the Transplant Center, who will work with the donor, to get this done as soon as possible. If all goes well (the donor could have conflicts that require us to push back), we are thinking Dad will be back in about 3.5 weeks to start his final preparations and then a week of chemo. The Transplant would then happen after the chemo and we'll go from there. It's looking like Mom and Dad will have a Houston Thanksgiving and Christmas and we'll say goodbye to 2014, ringing in 2015 on the road to being cancer free!
We should know more details by the end of the week.
Today... we are excited and focusing on the end game... a cure. We know that this process is going to be HARD on Dad physically and emotionally. It's going to be hard on the rest of us in different ways. The remainder of 2014 is going to be rough. But today, we are looking to the future. To more family vacations. To many more years of memories. We are relishing in hearing the Dr say things like "you'll be seeing us for check ups for the next 4 years" instead of things like "6 months untreated".