I had pretty much stopped doing these, but today it seemed like a good idea to make one more posting. Today is the first anniversary of my stem cell transplant, received on May 17, 2010. I am working regularly, feeling good, and at my one-year checkup at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance yesterday was given a good prognosis. No sign of leukemia in my bone marrow biopsy! So we’re all pretty happy around here.
I still have issues with Graft vs. Host Disease. For you who are out of practice reading these posts, that is the effect of my donor’s transplanted cells (the “graft”) looking around and seeing nothing but unfamiliar cells (mine – the “host”). They want to attack these strangers, until such time as they start feeling at home and stop attacking. In June they attacked my gut; in October to February it was my liver; now it is my skin. It is mild, and not very uncomfortable, but does need to be treated, and today I started a new course of Prednisone for it. Not my best friend, but I tolerated it better in the second course than the first, so I’m hoping this third course will be better.
The good news about GVHD is that it means my donated cells are also on a seek-and-destroy mission to attack any microscopic pockets of my old leukemic cells. The bad news is that I have to remain on immune-suppressing drugs for the foreseeable future, so I need to keep vigilant about things like food-borne illnesses, catching colds, etc. That’s kind of a drag, but in the grand scheme of things just an inconvenience.
An anticlimax was that we thought today was the day (one year after transplant) that we could find out contact information for my donor. We learned yesterday that with international donors (you might recall that we believe my donor was from Israel) you have to wait two years. Drat.
To celebrate today, I took my first bike ride in 14 months – 6 miles to University Village and back. The picture here is me on my trusty, if slightly rusty, steed. The other celebration was to write this post. Hope everyone out there in blog-reading land is well. And if you’re not, please use this post as a reminder that you CAN get better from some pretty scary diagnoses.