So, I am finished my out-patient and in-patient chemotherapies – the preliminaries! Now I get to gear up for the “high dose chemo” with an autologous stem cell transplant. (By the way the word “autologous” is not in the microsoft word dictionary – I just had to add it.)
See here for the logic of this course of therapy, why the transplant is needed, and how long I may be hospitalized.Tom Faranda's Folly: Latest Meeting with the Lymphoma Guru
However – in the build-up here’s what is happening:
I started today 14 days of injecting myself with an extremely expensive drug called Filgrastim (also called Neupogen) designed to “mobilize stem cells from the bone marrow to allow them to be collected.” The total cost for this medication is - sit down – over $8,000. And I am administering it to myself in three shots every morning. The insurance company should pick up the whole cost, minus a $40 co-pay.
On December 6th I see the transplant Dr. Kew Alrmani, down at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan.
On the 7th I get a red blood cell booster shot at the MSK branch in Sleepy Hollow.
On the 8th I’ll have a “stem cell collection” starting at 8AM at MSK in Manhattan. Dr. Reich, who will do this, introduced herself to me as the “Vampire Dr.” This takes about four hours – hope I don’t have to go to the bathroom!
On the 12th I will have CT and PET scans, again at MSK in Manhattan. I had been having the CT at Phelps and the PET at White Plains hospital but will have these at MSK, unfortunately starting at 4 in the afternoon, so that will be a late one. It’s also Brigid’s birthday!
On the 15th I will see the Lymphoma Guru, Dr. Zelenetz, who has been the primary guy through this whole thing, determining the course of therapy.
I will probably need several more stem cell collection sessions, since it usually takes about three to get enough cells. (Not always; with luck just one session!)
When I weighed myself Monday night after returning from the 48 hour, two night stay at MSK, I weighed 1661/2, up from 158 Saturday morning before I went in. It’s all fluid from the chemo. Last night I went to the gym, felt good (20 minutes on the bike, good weight session and stretching) and my weight was already down by over three pounds. Of course, I’d been up half the night running to the bathroom to wee. And ditto last night, so I am sure my weight will be down another 2 –3 pounds. The same thing happened after the first RICE in-patient session three weeks earlier.
MSK gve me a bunch of "Patient Information Fact Cards" as well as four brochures to read. I am working my way through them but so far no surprises. I have been prepped really well by the physicians and staff.