Thursday, October 23, 2008

Next Steps in Treatment

Sean and I visited the hospital today and we just thought we'd update everyone on what the next few steps are going to be.

Sean had some much needed dental work done this morning by Dr. West, a dentist who works in the oral surgery department at the hospital. Thankfully, all that needed to be completed before he could be cleared for his bone marrow stem-cell transplant were a few fillings, and everything went very well with the dentist.

Sean was given his first injections of Neupogen which is a growth hormone used to boost production of his bone marrow stem-cells so that they can be harvested and frozen and then used later in his transplant. (How incredible it is that medicine has come so far as to be able to use a person's own stem-cells rather than needing to find a bone marrow donor!) He will be given injections of Neupogen again on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. These are little 5 minute sessions that he just checks in and right back out for so no hospital stay needed for this step of the treatment.

Monday Sean will have his catheter placement done. This is a tube that will go into his neck that will allow doctors and nurses access to blood-draws, IV injections, and to do the stem-cell harvests and transplants from as well. Also on Monday, they will start the stem-cell harvest. He'll be hooked up to a machine similar to a dialysis machine which will filter all of the blood in his body for the bone marrow stem-cells. The stem-cells will be collected and frozen. This process (the harvest) will probably need to be repeated on Tuesday so that they can get enough stem-cells to use in the transplant later on.

Wednesday Sean will be admitted to the hospital and will have his first day of high-dose chemotherapy. They will be using a drug similar to the cisplatin that he had before but will NOT be using the cisplatin because in high-dose chemotherapy it will cause kidney failure. He will also be receiving Etroposide which he had during his first treatments of chemotherapy way back in the beginning. The doctors have told us that the dosage he will get during this treatment is about 5x the strength of the chemo he received during his initial rounds of treatment.

Thursday and Friday will be days 2 and 3 of the high-dose chemotherapy for Sean and then he will be on a break Saturday and Sunday. The next day, Monday, he will receive his stem-cell transplant.

This is about as far as we got with the schedule with the coordinator. Sean is going to do these treatments as an in-patient which we all agreed was in his best interest. This way he will be kept hydrated and he will be able to get the pain and nausea medications that he'll need. He is going to be staying in the Cancer Center again which was our preference because that will allow me to stay with him while he is there (not to mention it's a much nicer setup!). The staff at the hospital expects him to stay there between 14-20 days from this coming Wednesday.

My mom, Susan will be visiting us starting tomorrow until next Tuesday and then both of Sean's parents, Jeff and Kathy will arrive on November 1st which is that weekend and will be visiting us for a week.

We're very thankful for everyone's prayers and thoughts for our situation. It has been really rough but we'll live through it and we'll come out stronger both as Christians and as a married couple. Please continue to pray for us. We welcome phone calls and emails, and visitors too! :) I'll post an update next week once Sean is admitted to the hospital with his room information so that people who would like to visit will be able to find him. If anyone has questions or needs to contact Sean, please go through me so that he can continue to rest and gain strength before the start of this next treatment. We love you all and can't wait to see those of you at home in just a few short weeks!


Anonymous said...

Sean and Karen, You two are amazing. Thank you SO MUCH for all of the information. Please know you are always in our thoughts and prayers. We love you both. Love, Grandpa Martella, Aunt Debbie, Aunt Laura and Aunt Dawn

Richard said...

Dear Karen and Sean,

We just want to express to both of you and your families how much love we have for you, and how we are praying for your successful and safe recovery from this battle that we are confident you will win!

Much love,
Vorris, Marian Richard (and Tina!)

Anonymous said...

Hey Sean, you might not know me personally, but I am from the forums.

I just wanted to let you know that your in my prayers and I hope everything works out for the best.

My dad went through cancer a couple years ago and kept those high spirits (which is the healthiest thing to do) and never looked down.

Keep fighting buddy!

Sincerely, Chris (Eaglewarrior)