Chronicle of a Stem Cell Transplant (and on through to the other side)

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Here are some photos from a recent snowshoeing adventure up Mt. Seymour (thanks again, Zoe!) which I failed to mention to my mom until after we returned home safely (she worries...) The last time I went snowshoeing, they were made of leather and, guess it's been awhile...It was a beautiful day on the mountain, with the exception of my needing to stop every thirty seconds so my pokey red blood cells could deliver some oxygen!

Needless to say, gorgeous as it was, snowshoeing for 2.5km the day before my first Team in Training run made things a bit heavy...must...keep...going...

But we got 'er done. Barely.

Now I'm off to Whistler for some glorious R&R!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

2007, So Far...

Happy January, everyone! I didn't mean to take quite the extended break I did with my blog, but I guess it is a good sign that I am so busy. A lot has happened it the new year already, though I am not finished my radiation like I was hoping I would be by now. I stopped exactly halfway through my treatments (ten out of a scheduled twenty) just before Christmas and while I was disappointed, my radiologist said it was actually quite incredible that I got that far, given the beating my bone marrow has taken.

I thought my break would just be a few weeks, but it looks like I won't be resuming treatment until mid-February. My platelets are what is holding things up...they got down in the low 30 range, but are now in the high 70s. They need to be well over 100 though before I get more radiation. My red blood cells have also been quite low, but are also on the rise now and I am so used to being anemic, it really doesn't affect me that much.

Luckily, low counts aside, I have had the opportunity to have a really good start to the new year. The first week of January, we went over to a spa on Salt Spring Island where we did yoga and meditation everyday (Ian too!) with a really good instructor. I also enjoyed some Ayurvedic treatments including one called Shirodhara that involved "flowing oil on the forehead" to awaken my third eye (who knew I had one!) I also had a hot stone massage and salt scrub which felt wonderful.

The ferry ride over was beautiful too because we stopped at Galiano, Mayne and Pender Island as well. I made Ian go outside on the blustery ferry deck to prove it...

Then, last week, I attended a 2-day seminar at the Centre for Integrated Healing with my mom which was really good. I now have access to the Centre's programs for the next year (yoga, meditation, qi gong, visualization, etc) and my own naturopathic doctor. My first appointment with the naturopath is this Thursday - for an hour and a half! I can't believe I will get that much undivided attention from a doctor...anyway, I have met her already and she is fantastic. I have also signed Ian and I up for some cooking classes there...and I have warned him that he better be ready to embrace quinoa and kamut wholeheartedly.

Another interesting aspect of being at the seminar was meeting so many people, with so many different diagnoses. At this point, nine months in, I guess I have a lot of experience with "the system," and it is very gratifying to be able to share some of what I know with people at the beginning stages of their journey. I met a woman about my age (who reminded me totally of my friend Michelle from uni), who has just been diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkins...same 10 cm+ mass in the chest like me, plus additional sites. She is just beginning chemo and I was so glad to be able to talk to her and answer her questions and, in turn, talk to people who are ahead of me in this process, "returning" to their lives after cancer.

As many of you know, I have also started training to run a 1/2 marathon this May with Team In Training and have been joined by friends here and across the country. Thank you to everyone who has already graciously donated! To help with this ('cause I've never run that far in my life!) I am working with a wonderful trainer named Joanne. Unfortunately, I will not be in town for the first long run this Sunday, so I am going to run it with her this Thursday. Should be interesting to see what this anemic runner can pull off!

Then, on Saturday, I am heading off on a retreat near Whistler. Seven days of total self indulgence...more yoga, art/music therapy, meditation, etc) and yummy organic, vegetarian food. I already know a couple of people attending, including the facilitator, and I think it is going to be very therapeutic.

In other news, my cousin and his fiance returned from their beautiful wedding on the Mayan Riviera and we attended the reception at Coal Harbour this past Saturday. It was lovely, though I believe I may have had one too many glasses of wine and/or margaritas...congratulations, guys!

On a less romantic note, poor Finnegan is suffering from "explosive" diarrhea so I am home feeding him a diet of rice, wet food and chicken stock. The vet thinks it is just a bug, but we'll know when she gets the results back from the lab. Poor Finn!