Tell the Bees

Lina Update: Transplant Process Underway

Dear Family and Friends,

Lina was admitted to Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Hospital last night, Monday May 29, to begin her 3-4 week stem cell transplant.

She was scheduled to go in last week but a bad cold pushed the schedule back 1 week.

She had surgery at 7AM today to implant tubes into her heart for next week’s blood transfusion that will return her stem cells.

At noon they started the 4 days of massive chemotherapy. Next Monday, June 5th, is what they call “Day Zero” – the day they replace her stem cells.

She’s tired and sore but doing great so far. She’s got a loaded I-pod and is planning to learn to speak Spanish in the next 3 weeks listening to an audio book.

She welcomes phone calls, mail and visits (no kids allowed / be prepared to wear masks and gloves / might be good to call first).

No food stuff or flowers allowed.

Mailing Address:

I’m at the Brookline Marriott again tonight but returning to Maine tomorrow night to take sweet-16 Chloe to her driving license test Thursday AM. She’s had a big month – going to the Senior prom looking beautiful in Lina’s 1969 prom dress and having a great time – and having an opening for her art work at the high school. And 11 year old Moriah is the star pitcher of her softball team, just made advanced math for next year’s 6th grade and she just won the design contest for the t-shirts in the big Beach to Beacon Road Race in August .

The girls and I will come back to the Marriott this weekend.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Love,

Craig

And for all who have asked….

What’s a Stem Cell Transplant?

It’s a misnomer. It’s really not a ‘transplant.’ It’s a 4-day lethal dosage of chemotherapy which, hopefully, kills all microscopic traces of cancerous cells but in the process kills healthy stem and bone marrow cells. To ‘rescue’ you they replace your destroyed stem cells with previously frozen stem cells.

A stem cell is the parent cell from which all other blood cells and the immune system are created. Our bodies are constantly producing the cells that make up our hematopoietic (blood) and immune systems. Hematopoietic stem cells are the “mother” cells of the blood supply, giving rise to the oxygen carrying red blood cells, disease-fighting white blood cells, and platelets needed for clotting (Hematopoietic stem cells are different from embryonic stem cells, which can develop into every type of cell in the body.)

When the stem cells come from your own blood or bone marrow, it is called an autologous transplant.

When the stem cells come from another person, it is called an allogeneic transplant.

Most hematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow, but some cells, called the peripheral blood stem cells (PBSCs) are found in the blood stream. Blood in the umbilical cord also contains hematopoietic stem cells. Transplants can also be done with a patient’s own stem cells or stem cells from someone whose white cell antigens closely match your own.

Stem cell transplant is the term now used to described bone marrow transplants and transplants done with stem cells found in the blood. During a transplant, bone marrow/stem cells that have been destroyed or damaged by chemotherapy or radiation therapy are restored with healthy stem cells. Think of the stem cell transplantation as a transfusion of blood and immune system cells rather than a surgical procedure. During the stem cell transplant process you receive chemotherapy in doses that will destroy cancer cells (along with your bone marrow/stem cells.) Then your body is “rescued” with an infusion of healthy stem cells (that have been frozen since the “harvest”.) The new stem cells grow and produce all of the different parts of the blood that both your body and immune system need and your blood counts should return to safe levels in about 2-6 weeks. Complete recovery of the immune function takes much longer, up to several months.

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