This week marks the end of the beginning of my journey with multiple myeloma. The first part of the journey was about discovery and shock and education and preparation for what lies ahead. Since I was diagnosed I have been learning about my disease with my doctors. At the same time family and friends, the congregation and many colleagues have come alongside with support, concern and care. It has been something of a whirlwind. It is certainly not what I had in mind for the summer of 2011.
The second part of my journey with multiple myeloma is the good fortune to be eligible for an autologous stem cell transplant (a transplant using my own stem cells). Preparation for this procedure began when I started a three month treatment using steroids to put the myeloma into remission. I have one more month of this treatment to complete. During the next month I have a number of appointments, tests and procedures in preparation for the transplant. If all goes well I am scheduled to have my stem cells harvested on August 17 & 18. Then I am to have a single chemotherapy treatment on August 24 (to "erase my hard drive"). On August 25 I am scheduled to receive my stem cells back. It normally takes about seven to ten days from that event before the stem cells graft to the bone marrow and begin to produce blood cells again. Amazing. I am to go through the entire procedure as an out patient of the Krall Centre on the 6th floor of the Centennial Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital. Unless I become very ill I will not be staying in the hospital over night. Instead, I will get rides to and from the hospital as needed. I will be living at home, away from crowds and the risk of infection for about three months before being able to return to ministry part-time. Full-time ministry should follow early in 2012. It all depends on keeping healthy and getting stronger. Then my doctors say that I can expect to enjoy a lengthy remission. That is why it is my good fortune to be eligible for a stem cell transplant.
In the meantime, our family is getting away on a vacation. We are really looking forward to being together before I begin the next stage of the journey. We will be out of computer range. This blog will be silent for awhile. I will post again in August.
Thanks to so many for your support, care and prayers. It is a powerful experience that fills me with gratitude. Thanks, also, to those who have sponsored Carmen, Caroline and Janice in their runs and ride to raise funds for blood cancer research. Carmen has reached her goal. Janice has until June 2012 to reach her target. Caroline is nearing her goal but needs a boost in support to get there this summer. I encourage you to encourage Caroline and myself by becoming one of her sponsors. Today she is 71% of the way to $3,200. It means that she needs donations totaling $925. Your gift of any size gives her another motivation to train and lifts my spirits. Thank-you!