As I wrote before, yesterday I had the appointment in the hospital for the analysis of my bone marrow and the current blood values. Already in the afternoon the oncologist sent me the pleasing result: All values have improved so much that an entry into the next phase of treatment without further therapy is possible. This means that in the next step he will now register me for the bone marrow transplant in Zurich at the University Hospital. Read my complete report here!
Dear family and friends,
I would like to share with you today the joy of the results of yesterday’s examination.
The puncture yesterday morning was unpleasant, but bearable. With all the waiting time, we spent the entire morning in the hospital. Already in the afternoon I received the encouraging report from my treating oncologist that the bone marrow looked very good. The values, which were high before the beginning of the therapy due to the disease, have reduced so much that I can start the next phase without further therapy. I am so grateful to God for this result and thus for the answer to many prayers, and I thank all of you who participated.
What happens next? The oncologist in Winterthur will have all the results and his report ready by the end of the week at the latest. He will then refer me to the University Hospital in Zurich (USZ). He thinks that it will not take long, i.e. next week, until I am invited for an appointment in Zurich. And it is usually quieter in the summer. So it could be that the stem cell therapy will start within a few weeks.
If the following is too detailed for you, you can easily skip the next few paragraphs.
If you want to know more, you are welcome to inform yourself in the corresponding forums:
During the last 12 weeks (induction therapy), my disease was repressed without damaging my stem cells too much. In the next phase, the stem cells are first induced by drugs to proliferate more and leak into the bloodstream. The goal is then to remove them in preparation for transfer. To do this, I am connected to a so-called apheresis device (see illustration), which filters out the stem cells from the blood and removes them, while the remaining blood components flow back into the body. This happens on an outpatient basis in Zurich and usually takes a few hours. The goal is to get enough of my own stem cells for at least two transfusions, which are purified and preserved frozen; then I am ready for high-dose chemotherapy.
If after that it takes longer until a place is available in Zurich, I might have to receive maintenance therapy (by tablets) in Winterthur.
As soon as I am admitted to the USZ as an inpatient, I will receive the high-dose chemo over 2 days, which will destroy the bone marrow. Hopefully it will eliminate as many as possible of the remaining malignant plasma cells in the body, which are the main feature of the disease called “multiple myeloma”.
The side effects will be much more severe than in the first phase, such as massive nausea, loss of all hair, increased irritation of the mucous membranes. After another two days, I will receive my own stem cells via infusion and will be closely monitored in the following days to ensure that I do not develop a fever or infection and that my blood circulation resumes its full function. Because during this time my risk of infection is very high; therefore I am in an isolation room in the clinic.
This whole second phase lasts at least 3 to 4 weeks. According to the doctor, I will be even more tired and exhausted than after the first phase.
The goal of the entire therapy is that the malignant plasma cells are no longer detectable in the blood or are at a very low level, so that I can live practically symptom-free. Of course, I have to go for regular check-ups, and it usually takes a so-called maintenance therapy to keep the still incurable disease at the lowest possible level. But with God everything is possible!
We expressed our gratitude to the doctor how much time he and his team take for us and also for other patients. He answered that they consciously take time for the patients, to whom they want to convey not only therapy and medication, but also “confidence” in view of the serious illnesses.
So, now you are pretty much up to date with the state of affairs. Dietlind asked me this afternoon if I was afraid. A little bit, I have to say, whereas I just see it as something I have to go through now. But I don’t worry too much about it, because we are always aware that we are in God’s hands. My wife wrote the short phrase “Heaven rules!” on the bathroom mirror back in April, shortly after the initial diagnosis.
We are simply grateful for the days that I can now live without therapy or medication; especially because the doctor has just confirmed once again that my values have become very good. So we are now looking forward to the next few days, which we can experience and enjoy before we start in Zurich.
We thank you for all the love and support and your prayers!