Andy F.
Posted by
Andy F.

A craft filled combat for a 'Crafty' cancer!

Andy F.
Posted by
Andy F.
21 Jun 2016

Stem Cells, to transplant or not to transplant, that is the question!

Stem Cell Transplant, now there’s a thing! Turns out these work best when they can mobilise your stem cells to enable them to harvest a large collection to work on and feed back to you.


This usually involves lots and lots of trips to the nearest hospital that has the best specialists around who specialize in every single aspect of Stem Cell Treatment. SCT’s  generally fall into two categories, Autologous (where your own cells are used, these tend to be the best) and Allograft (where you receive cells from a donor, still useful but have their own complications).


I was all rigged ready to go, Hickman line installed to make collection ad delivery far easier, 100% match found for a back up plan of an Allograft, everything looked set for a grand outcome. That was until they tried to get my cells out of me. You see in order to perform SCT they need to mobilise a certain amount of stem cells from your body which they can then treat, freeze and give back to you. Normally this figure tends to be around 5-6 million.


After sitting there for around four hours on my first visit they switched the machine off and sent me home saying it was almost as though I’d been sat there without the machine being turned on they’d harvested so few cells. The plan was to send me back to the consultant to come up with another plan.


So a new plan was put into place, a room was booked for me at the hospital with the plan to stay there a couple of days while they squeezed a couple of doses of Plerixafor in to try and help mobilise my cells in between harvests. For some reason the Plerixafor had the opposite effect and each dose seemed to lessen the amount of cells harvested. Now this was creating a problem!


After a long chat with the consultant we were given the news that apparently Stem Cell Treatment was not for me in any way, either Auto or Allo. We were told to go home and concentrate on having the best possible Christmas we could. The drive home from the hospital that day was one of the longest drives we have ever had. My wife and I never said a word to each other for the whole journey, just exchanged nervous glances of love, confusion and uncertainty.


After the longest Christmas we have ever had our first appointment with the consultant was to be a very interesting meeting. Whilst we had been making the most of our time over Christmas it seems the SCT consultant had been exchanging text messages and telephone calls with my Haematology consultant and between them they had come up with a plan, a long shot but a paper had been written recently about giving a patient in my situation the same High Dose Melphalam that you would give a patient who was going through SCT and then if their paraprotein count dropped below a certain level they may be held in ‘maintenance’ using a combination of Revlimid and Dexamethasone.


A very long shot but this could be interesting………………….


Lizzie Goates

What an incredibly emotional, anxious and confusing Christmas that must have been for you both!

I am very much interested to hear what happens next, keep us updated Andy!