Cancer, Coronovirus and...a transplant

Everyone has been asked to stay home to help stop the spread of this terrible thing called the Coronovirus, to 'flatten the curve', keep the healthcare system from failing, to protect the elderly and, in our case, to protect those with no immune system - the 'at risk.'


When Covid 19 really began to make moves in our country, Brad's white blood cell count was at .08, as in virtually nonexistent. My anxiety skyrocketed at the thought of what could happen if he was somehow exposed to the virus. What if I was? I am certain I drove Brad crazy in our first days of 'official' quarantine. I checked our temperatures every hour. I couldn't sleep due to the fear of being too close. If he coughed, I jumped. I avoided any contact with Brad. My throat even started to hurt, not because it could have been anything remotely close to the Coronovirus considering we hadn't left the house, but probably due solely to my stress, lack of sleep and anxiety wrapped up in a few days.


I asked Brad what his first thoughts were as the headlines, the media and the conversation picked up around Coronovirus: His immediate response: "What if Natalie walks through a someone's sneeze trail or cough dust." He had fear. Fear of getting sick. Fear of leaving the house. Fear of seeing basically anyone that wasn't his oncologist or me.


I know we aren't alone with these feelings. Anyone who either has a compromised immune system, or takes care of that someone, probably felt some combination of what I just described. It's hard to discern what level of worry is actually appropriate in this media crazed environment because the reality for us is that the Coronovirus is really no different than protecting against the flu, strep or simply a cold for a cancer patient. Brad, along with so many others, falls in the 'at risk' category. We fall into that category. Although my immune system is firing on all cylinders, if I get sick, he gets sick, but in reality that's the case for any virus or illness.


With all that said, our lives weren't really impacted by the 'stay at home' rule. Since Brad's diagnosis we have been in a form of isolation: no travel, less outings, fewer visitors, etc. Lots of people have reached out to check on us and we thank you for that! It has been awhile since we provided an update on Brad's care and the status of his stem cell transplant.


So here is the most important news: they have found a stem cell donor for Brad!

For all of those that signed up with the various donor registries, it may just be you! Thank you!


At this point, we have stopped his Hyper CVAD protocol. The idea is that giving Brad more intense chemotherapy would only deplete his strength and reserve with no additional impact on his cancer. Simply said - the chemo has done all it can for Brad's cancer at this time.


In the meantime, his physician put him on a maintenance chemotherapy plan until we found a donor. I know that may be confusing as I just told you he got to stop the Hyper CVAD protocol and we found a donor, but it's only until his transplant and maintenance chemo is a fraction of the intensity compared to his original regimen. It will be a single infusion of Vincristine combined with oral chemo and some additional steroids and medications.

Since we received word (literally yesterday) that there was a donor, we will begin planning and prepping for his transplant sooner rather than later, as in in the next few weeks (May).


What's next: Brad will go through a series of tests before he will go for his transplant. We will have lots of doctor's visits coming up, scans, organ tests and his least favorite, another bone marrow biopsy.


Prayer requests: most importantly, for all of those impacted by this Coronovirus and that it would go away. Pray for Brad's stem cell donor. That they would stay healthy in preparation for the transplant. Pray that we find a place to live close to the hospital for the upcoming months.


I will be sure to provide everyone another update as we know more about the transplant. I know we have said this before, but we truly are so thankful that you all continue to support and encourage on this really long journey. As Brad said just yesterday, "we're just shooting for a really, really good Q4 of 2020."


XOXO

Natalie and Brad


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