The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. Sophie’s reaction to her 2nd chemo cycle was much better than her reaction to the first cycle, and significantly better than anyone had anticipated (based on our 1st round experience). We were able to keep her nausea at bay, and she was able to eat, drink and have more energy throughout her five days of treatment.
Once her 5 day chemo was over, we then waited anxiously for the inevitable fever that comes with this treatment. However, much to everyone’s surprise and delight, we got incredibly lucky and Sophie endured her entire neutropenic phase without getting a fever! This meant that we were able to go in for many daily doctor visits and transfusions, but did not have to stay overnight in the hospital as we often do during this time. This was the first time this had ever happened, and we definitely didn’t take it for granted.
This week we are going through an entirely new process than we have experienced previously.
After conversations with our oncology team, the decision was made for Sophie to have a stem cell harvest and collection during the last week of chemo round 2 (this current week). This process entails a number of things, both preceding the collection, and after the actual collection itself.
- Daily injections to boost the number of stem cells in her blood
- Daily blood counts to ensure the rest of her blood #’s are increasing (red blood cells, etc.)
- Insertion of a new “temporary line” (similar to her current meta-port) on the other side of her chest (under anesthesia)
- Stem cell collection itself – involves sitting in the blood donor room hooked up to a special machine for a number of hours
- Removal of temporary line post-stem cell collection (under anesthesia)
While this initially seemed frightening and unfamiliar to us, the team explained that there could be significant benefit to having this overall procedure done. After the inevitable upcoming surgery (which will most likely be happening over the next month or two), some of the treatment options could include even higher dose chemotherapy and/or radiation. These kinds of treatments make it difficult for a patient’s own stem cells and bone marrow to regenerate on their own, and harvesting Sophie’s own stem cells and storing them, gives us the ability to return the cells to her at a later date, which can help her recover more quickly and easily during future treatments.
(For those interested in reading more, the process is called Autologous Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Harvesting)
While it has been a very busy week with daily hospital appointments, Sophie has been in great spirits throughout, and we are so happy to see her smiling and running around. It is incredible to witness how resilient she has been throughout this next phase of her cancer, and how incredibly she has been tolerating all of the new changes and treatments, both physically and mentally.
Next week brings the start of her 3rd round of chemo, and discussions to plan for her upcoming surgery. We will keep everyone posted with details as we know more.