Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Update on Dad-- Harvesting Process

Hello All-
Just a quick update. Dad is in the hospital right now, still at NWMH. He was admitted Monday morning to being the harvest process of his stem cells. Rewind back to earlier this weekend, he never ended up experiencing any of the harsh side effects from his 88 hour long chemo induction. He was tired, but luckilly, that was it! Unfortunately, he did experience the extreme bone pain from his Nuelasta shot, but it went away within one day. I was so relieved it was gone for him.

Anyway, he had to have a PICC Line put in (see photos below). They aren't able to do the harvest process through his port since it's only a "one-way", meaning the PICC Line will allow them to remove the blood & cells through one valve, and put the blood back in through the other. Think of the harvest process like dialysis. He's hooked up on a machine for a good chunk of the day having blood taken out, stem cells removed from it, and then blood put back in. I know he's feeling pretty exhausted from this. Thank goodness for iPads...

Yesterday, they were able to extract 9 million cells. Today we're hoping they can get the rest, he needs a total of 20 million extracted. If they are able to get the remainder, he will most likely get to come home tomorrow. He will also have the PICC Line removed. The next step is the actual transplant, which is still scheduled for February 10th. We want to thank everyone for your prayers and good thoughts! I will continue to update :)


Dad's new PICC Line

Dad having the PICC Line put in, a bedside procedure

The "harvesting process"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Update on Dad!

My dad came home from NWMH last Friday. Since then, he's been doing alright. He is mostly tired, and just resting and taking it easy. He was told that he will probably start feeling the effects of the 88 hour long chemo induction around today (or so). Meaning, he'll probably feel really lousy, exhausted, nauseous, etc. No fun- but, as of last night, he didn't feel any of that! He's hoping that since he's felt so good since then, maybe it won't get too bad. Even so, please keep him in your prayers. I remember that chemo nausea all too well, and it's not fun.

He received his Nueslasta shot a couple days ago. This is a shot that is given to him to help promote white blood cell production. White blood cells are produced in your bone marrow, therefore, he will probably get very sore (in his bones) from this. I was on Nuelasta too while I was sick, and honestly, that was the worst part for me.  The bone pain is pretty awful, fairly excruciating. I am hoping and praying that my dad doesn't have to feel any of that. So far, so good. I haven't talked to him today though, but again, please keep him in your thoughts. Starting Saturday, I believe he will have his self-administered Nuepogin shots (I think that's the drug). Again, to promote white blood cell growth. I imagine that'll cause some bone pain as well. Again though, he's been feeling pretty good despite all of this he's going through.

On a lighter note, he went to Banana Joe's (Joliet-Famous!) and got his head shaved! He's not completely bald, but I think it suits him. To me, it looks like he meant for it to be like that, not like he had to shave his head because of cancer. He thinks he needs a pork pie hat, he could slightly resemble Walter White, same initials and all. W.W. :)

I haven't gotten to see my dad yet since before he even went into the hospital. The girls and I have all been sick, so we couldn't risk it. His immune system is still recovering and he cannot be around anyone that is remotely sick. On Monday, he'll go back to NWMH to begin the "harvest" process. This can take anywhere from 1-4 days. Let's hope for one. This shouldn't be too painful, I believe it'll be a similar setup to a transfusion. They will just start harvesting his own cells in preparation for the transplant. I believe they will be harvesting enough for up to 4 transplants, but we hope that he'll only have to do this one. I will keep you all updated. Here's a pic of his new hair cut and a recent Face-Time photos.

Dad's new "do" 
Grumpa on Face-Time with his grandbabies :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

An update on my Dad

I wanted to write this to update everyone on what's going on with my dad. He was diagnosed with smoldering myeloma in 2013. I guess you can kind of consider it a pre-cancer to multiple myeloma, which is a type of blood cancer. He was going in for routine blood work and they discovered that his m-protein levels were way too high. Thank goodness for that blood work, as he had no symptoms. It was definitely scary, but luckily his doctor decided on a prophylactic chemotherapy regimen. He has been doing chemo for about a year now in hopes that it wouldn't progress to multiple myeloma.

Fast forward to the past couple months-- my dad was put on a new drug in his regimen (revlimid) because it did progress into multiple myeloma, stage 1. He went for a second opinion at Northwestern, and quickly switched over to an oncologist there who specifically treats for myeloma, along with an amazing team. She decided that it would be best to schedule a stem-cell transplant. Now, bear with me as I am typing this all from memory, and not from his actual paperwork. I may miss a few things in here. He continued on his regular scheduled chemo with the new added in drug, which made him very tired, and took a lot of his energy away from him. He continued on, very tired, but still, so positive! He was doing this all to prepare for what's going on now.

He went into Northwestern yesterday for a 5 day in-patient chemotherapy session. I don't know what else to call it? Basically, he's hooked up on his chemo drugs for 5 days. Each cycle takes 22 hours to be administered, and after 22 hours, they'll immediately hook up the next cycle, totaling 88 hours. He should be done and be able to go home on Friday. If anyone would like to visit, email, or text him, please email me at wimbiscusk@gmail.com and I will do my best to get that information to you.

When he gets out of the hospital on Friday, he will have some follow-up drugs at home, something that will boost his white blood cell count in the form of a self-administered shot, I believe. Then  in about two weeks, he will go back to NW to have his stem cells harvested for his autologous transplant (meaning, he is his own donor). So, from what I understand, this week long chemo is to "clean everything up" so get ready for the harvest. As of now, his transplant is scheduled for February 10th at NW in Chicago. It is a very invasive procedure, but his oncologist has said that he is an ideal candidate. He can be in the hospital anywhere from 10 days to one month after the transplant. I am not sure about visitors at that point- as his immune system will be compromised. I will definitely keep you all updated as things progress.

So far though, he was doing great. My dad seemed very tired, but he was doing good when the girls & I face-timed him last night. He has an amazing view of the lake, and his room looks very nice. He is equipped with every Apple product known to man so he can immerse himself into Netflix, Reading, Writing, Face Time, Silly Apps... or he can totally relax and enjoy the view.

Thank you everyone for your support and prayers. We ask that you continue to send your positive thoughts his and my mom's way.

Here are some of my face-time photos from last night :)

xo, k
*UPDATE* I missed this, but my mom said that when my dad gets home this weekend, his immune system will be very very weakened, therefore, he cannot be around anyone who is sick.
Dad at his "work station" :)

Babies facetiming with their Grumpa :)

Some of the drugs my dad is hooked up to

my dad's "million dollar view" :)