Day 100

Today my bone marrow turns 100 days old. In stem cell transplant circles that’s a milestone. To celebrate my wife and friends have organized a blood drive and I’m hoping there will be cake. Earlier I posted a video of the effects of chemo. Today I post the “completed” video that shows the changes from the start of the transplant process to today. I’m no prettier, but at least I have eyebrows.

For those who have asked about how I’m feeling, an update: I am feeling very good. My energy (and beard) is back. My stomach is back to what it was before the treatments (which was never good, but at least manageable). My toes still tingle and hurt from peripheral neuropathy –likely a reminder of chemo I will have for the foreseeable future.

My white blood cells, an indication of my immune system’s strength, are in the normal range. So I still need to be very careful of what I eat, I need to stay away from sick folks, and avoid recycled air in airplanes. However, as many have noted, I am able to get out and about.

My platelets – their precipitous drop started the whole Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis – are over 100 and approaching normal. The doctor even gave me the all clear to start rollerblading again (with a helmet and all the pads).

I put the word completed above in quotes because, of course, I’m not done. Next week I have another PET scan to see if there are any remnants of the cancer. The hope, of course, is that the scan will be clean. The reality is that it will probably have some ambiguity. The possibility is that the cancer is not gone and there will be more treatments (radiation, chemo). Here’s the thing, even if the scan comes back clean, those three possibilities – clean, ambiguous, and bad – will be with me for years to come.

Still, in the face of the old Yiddish saying “Man plans and God laughs,” I’m taking my own advice, and continuing on. I go to work, I write grants, I schedule appointments past one month. Every time I put something on the calendar more than a month away I have this feeling that I’m setting myself up, but I do it anyway. Maybe after the PET Scan I’ll do it with a feeling of “screw you cancer,” but we shall see.

From biopsy to 100 days after stem cell transplant. from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

8 Replies to “Day 100”

  1. Congratulations and I’m hoping you make as many more milestones in life as you are prepared to ask for. Didn’t know “recycled air” in airplanes was harmful – indeed, I was under the impression it was not recycled by brought in from outside (and brought up to pressure), since I interpreted the warnings of dry air on planes stemming from that being cold air that is then heated and tends therefore to be dry. Recycled air on the contrary should have become damper and damper the longer the flight took, seeing each adult loses about half a gallon of water through breathing and sweating per about 24 hours.

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