When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
5/11/2007: We Have This Hope!
"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
"But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day shouldsurprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
"For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
Sometimes, I think of this trial with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) as a type of "thief in the night" experience.
However, to take to heart the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, a thief may take your possessions, even your life, but he shouldnot take your HOPE.
Dee Dee and I are about to embark on the most serious phase of our 14-month journey with this disease. Next up: a stem cell transplant. Still to be determined: which type?
The autologous transplant involves the harvesting of my own stem cells followed by high-dose chemotherapy and radiation to wipe out my immune system. Then, my harvested stem cells are transfused to help rebuild the immune system. In the process, the cancer is all but eradicated and my body returns to a disease-free state.
Unfortunately, even with this involved procedure that may take 3-6 months, the cancer may return in months or years to come. It is not known to provide a cure.
The other option? The allogeneic transplant where the stem cell donation comes from someone else, usually a sibling. My younger brother, Dennis, 52, is being tested now about his availability as a "match." If so, his stem cells will be harvested via a simple blood draw, the cells frozen, and then I still undergo the high-dose chemo and radiation treatment, but his cells are transplanted instead of my own. The major potential complication of the allogeneic transplant: graft to host disease, which can be fatal. The payoff: this procedure offers the only real hope of a permanent cure.
And unlike the 4-6 months for the autologous transplant, the allogeneic procedure may take a year for treatment and recovery. Wow!
All of this decision making and the direction we are taking will be determined in the next few weeks because all of thepre-procedure testing and work-up routines must be completed within 30 days of the actual transplant which follows soon after my next “routine” chemotherapy on May 25-27. This means that before the end of June, I will likely be admitted to The City of Hope for one form of stem cell transplant. Thus, the adventure begins a new chapter, one with the promise of hope for a cure.