Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Myeloma transplant - Preparation

This is my story of my autologous stem cell transplant for myeloma at Auckland Hospital New Zealand bone marrow transplant unit December 2001. What my protocol was, how I planned it all, what my reaction was, how I coped, how I recovered and what help I can pass on to others. After a successful transplant I relapsed in 2007 and had a second transplant in 2008.
My story, my illness, my body, my medication, my transplant, others may have a different story.

At the time of my diagnose (2001) the conventional treatment in New Zealand for myeloma was chemotherapy, there weren’t the treatment options available like there are now (2009). Those considered healthy enough for a stem cell transplant had VAD followed by the transplant. Others had chemotherapy and its consequences.
My condition was serious, IgG kappa stage III with extensive bone involvement. [Test results at diagnose]. In spite of that I was considered reasonably healthy, a good candidate for a stem cell transplant, so after discussions on current and future treatment options with my medical team I chose VAD plus transplant. Natural remedies and alternate treatments were considered by me but I felt it was too late for those to be effective leaving me putting my trust in conventional treatment. Following my transplant I changed to a low GI diet, eliminated rubbish food, eliminated alcohol, increased fluids and juices, use selected vitamins, reduced stress and continued exercise to suit my condition. After a successful transplant I had six years myeloma free.

From my initial research into stem cell transplants for myeloma, I learnt that other patients had a varied reaction to their transplant experience. Some have had it easy, no major problems, able to spend a minimal time in hospital, more time at home with a short recovery period then back to work early. At the opposite end others have struggled with fatigue, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, mucositis, rash, fever, kidney problems, pneumonia and more. Fatigue often continuing during a long recovery period taking up to 6 months to recover. Most patients vary in between those two extremes.
Physical condition, type of myeloma, planning and preparation, personal attitude, mental toughness, and the ability to tolerate melphalan and other treatment medication all contribute.
Except for how I tolerated VAD there was nothing available to indicate to me how I would cope so my preparation was based on a worst case scenario though being an optimistic person hoped I for an easy ride.
The treatment protocol may vary in different countries and hospitals and according to a patient’s health status.

This is the first of “part 2” a series of postings relating to my autologous stem cell transplant for myeloma. As they are complete the posting series can be found under labels/part 2 [Here.]

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