Stem Cell Harvest – prepreparation!

Now I’m feeling a little better, I thought it might be useful for some of you to know the next stage for me which has started today!

As lots of you will know, I will be having a stem cell transplant on the 18th/19th July. This will use my own stem cells and in order to do this, next week I will undergo a Stem Cell Harvest.

Stem cells are basicially the immature cells in the bone marrow that produce new blood cells. In order to kill off the Myeloma (or most of it!), I will undergo high dose chemotherapy on the 18th July but this majorly damages my bone marrow and would make me so susceptible to infection and bleeding, that I would be at major risk. In order to reduce the risk, they take my own stem cells from me (stem cell harvest) next week, in order that they can give them back to me the day after the chemo so that they help to ‘rescue’ me from high dose treatment….clear as mud?

So today, I have started doing self injections of what they call G-CSF injections. These stimulate the stem cells to reproduce quickly in my bone marrow and I have to do them for the next 5 days. Once the stem cells have been created, they move from the bone marrow to my blood and then they are ready for harvest on Monday….hopefully. The injections themselves are no big deal. I was very nervous the first time, and got my GP to help me do it, but now, it is just like a tiny scratch as I inject into the fatty part of my stomach….and yes, I know, there is lots of that with all the weight I have put on!!

I’m not looking forward to the side effects. Apparently night sweats and insomnia are common (as if I’m not having enough problems with that as it is!), and by the end of the 5 days, you can feel like you are being kicked in the back all night…..lovely juvely! But it is all a good sign that the bone marrow is doing its job, so perhaps I should try to embrace those effects rather than dread them!

Anyway, I’ve started on the morphine today anyway as my peripheral neuropathy has come back with a vengance and I have feet that feel frozen with needles going through them!! Hopefully that will help with any of the G-CSF side effects too!! One day, I will wake up with no pain, no discomfort and looking forward to the day ahead…..bring it on 🙂

The harvest itself on Monday isn’t meant to be major….just very tiring as I’ll be in for most of the day. And if they don’t get enough stem cells on the Monday, I may have to go back on the Tuesday, and possibly the Wednesday too. But that will be fine. But enough for now…..if you find this useful, I’ll give you more of the detail about the harvest while I’m hooked up to the machine on Monday!!!!

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