The care and effort required surrounding a cancer patient is significant. I’d like to use the worn-out phrase, ‘it takes a village.’ But that feels pretty corny for a guy known more for his sarcasm and snappy wit.
That said, I’m thinking of the families who have a member battling cancer. I’m thinking of the older couple where one has cancer and all of the support falls on the spouse. It is an enormous burden.
I’m thinking of those things today as I start the process of an autogolous stem cell transplant to arrest my Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. For me it’s a team effort of tremendous friends helping me through my toughest round of cancer treatment. I had great support in 2015 when I went through my first serious round of chemo. The latest round didn’t require help but this one sure will.
Allow me to dwell on cancer support for a few words in this space today. This procedure is done as an inpatient or in a carefully monitored situation as an outpatient. I’m starting as an outpatient. My dearest friend Kathy lives just a mile or so from the hospital. It’s a requirement I be no more than approximately 15 minutes away for several weeks. That is because of the high possibility of infections, complications.
My ‘caregiver’ must be with me or near by 24-7 – that’s no small assignment. I have to be extremely aware of my surroundings. I can’t suffer a minor cut or even stub my toe. Cleanliness and the right mix of rest and activity are paramount to recovery. I’ll go through several weeks of a totally compromised immune system.
My friend’s effort is remarkable. How do you tell a person making that commitment ‘thank you?’ I’m not sure.
But there are many more helping me out. I have a college student watching my home – getting the mail, coming in and out, and watching the house. I have a dear neighbor watching my house as well. Additionally, my neighbor will have a cleaning service in days before I return home from treatment thoroughly clean the house to reduce any chance of infection or illness.
My supervisor at work has helped me through substantial paperwork to arrange my time off, without pay but with my insurance coverage.
I have two friends who have offered to ferry my mail to Indianapolis a couple of times during my treatment. Additionally, I have a couple of friends who have pledged to come visit while I’m recovering; always the best medicine.
And I’m sure I’m leaving someone out.
So my team is in place. I intend to write a lot through this process – yes, so friend and family can stay updated but also because I learned in 2015 other cancer patients read these cancer blogs. This one is on a national registry.
So let it begin today. I get my first booster shot this afternoon to accelerate white blood cell production. My first big event is Monday – a blood test to see if I can manufacture enough stem cells to harvest for a transplant.
I did well – really well – in all my pre-op testing. That is no guarantee of anything. The downside is I have had two rounds of chemotherapy which can certainly cause reduced white count. While there is a ton of concern about the post chemo susceptibility to infection and other issues, everything begins with harvesting enough stem cells to do the transplant.
Thanks for reading.