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Another Christmas in hospital?

Posted by
24 Nov 2015

Facing a stem cell transplant and another long stay in hospital over Christmas

Last week my transplant co-ordinator, Joy, came to see me. It's now three weeks since I completed my second cycle of chemotherapy and my blood counts are slowly starting to recover. The next challenge will be the stem cell transplant. 

Joy told me my transplant had been pencilled in for 18th December and my heart sank. That would mean going into hospital on 12th December and staying in until several weeks into January. I did that last year. My children are now 5 and 8. They are at an age when Christmas should be magical.  They have already spent one Christmas without their Mummy. How on earth can I tell them that I won't be there again this year? I always knew it might happen but the reality was gutting.

So I asked the question: Is there room for movement on that date? They didn't say no. They haven't said Yes. Obviously a lot depends on how my blood counts continue to recover, and the results of my upcoming biopsy. The date can't be set in stone yet anyway. One consultant suggested that it could be delayed until after Christmas, but that I might require an extra cycle of chemo,  giving me no guarantee of being home for Christmas anyway, and probably, making me feel lousy. I also don't want to sacrifice my chances of remission for the sake of one Christmas, if the transplant could buy me many more years of Christmases....

It should all become clearer in the next few weeks, but right now I am in limbo and feeling a bit helpless



Hi Jane,

Really sorry to hear that you're feeling low and a little helpless at the moment. Given the uncertainty and the fact that everything is currently in a state of limbo it's not surprising.

It must be extremely frustrating not to be able to plan ahead and look forward to Christmas like everyone else and the conflicting emotions that you're experiencing, again, are completely understandable.

The most important thing is that your counts are rising and that there now appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. As you say a lot depends upon your biopsy results. Once you have the results the picture will become clearer and you'll know what your options are. At that point you can sit down with your consultant and family and decide what you think works best for you.

We're also here to help in any way that we can and if you ever want to talk to someone about your situation please don't hesitate to get in touch with our Patient Experience team by giving them a call on 0808 2080 888 or by dropping them an email at support@bloodwise.org.uk

In the meantime keep your spirits up, remember that we're all with you every step of the way and concentrate on looking after yourself and taking each day as it comes. We've got everything crossed that your white cell count continues to rise.



Jane, I am so sorry to hear that you're unable to make plans with your family - it's not fun having AML, but it's especially horrible at Christmas. I was at home for mine (just, following transplant) but half of my family had colds so I couldn't have them round to see me and I kept being sick so couldn't eat! It must be especially hard with such young children and my heart goes out to you.

I know it's not at all the same thing as being at home but I wondered if there was any way to make the day special for them in a unique way? I was thinking your children might benefit from having something to focus on to help you. So you could ask them to make you decorations for your cubicle (which of course you can bring home if you do break out in time), peppermint creams (nice for sicky stomachs and easy to make with a bit of help from family/friends) and maybe even request some battery-powered twinkly lights (these aren't too expensive: http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/3438569.htm). Perhaps some satsumas and gingerbread might go down well as snacks? If they have an obliging uncle/gramps/family friend etc, perhaps he might be persuaded to visit the hospital as Father Christmas while your children are there? And maybe you could have an extra Christmas in 2016 when you are at home and feeling a bit better - even if it's in Spring time (Easter bunny and Father Christmas together?!).

I hope you do get home in time for Christmas day but either way, the most important thing is that you spend some quality time together. You might be tired and maybe even a bit grumpy, but I am sure they will just want hugs and love being with you anyway. 

All my well-wishes to you.