Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why Chemo Now?

This blog has been created to bring awareness and keep our friends and family informed.  Sometimes we take for granted that everyone already knows the terminology that we use.  Hopefully as we go along we will explain each phase better, but if at any time you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact us through Facebook.  That is the only way for our message to be fully received and understood.  So, thank you to those who have asked the questions.  Keep them coming!  

Well today I finished the chemo portion of the mobilization process and I still have all of my fingers and toes.  So, that is a good thing. 

As I was going through the chemo I received some questions about the benefits of doing chemo now.  Since this blog has been created to spread awareness about the stem cell transplant for CIDP, I wanted to get an official answer from Dr. Burt's team.  Amy Morgan, Dr. Burt's nurse, explained to us that although it is possible to mobilize the stem cells without using chemotherapy, they (Burt's team) believe that there are three benefits for using Cytoxan as part of the mobilization of stem cells.  Here are the three reasons that she provided:

1) Main Reason: To prevent a flare up.  Basically, Neupogen, which is a standard growth factor medication used to generate a large release of stem cells into the blood stream, will cause a flare-up of symptoms in CIDP patients.  The chemotherapy, in this case Cytoxan, helps counteract the Neupogen induced flare-ups by knocking the immune system down. 

2) Promote Stem Cell Growth: Because the immune system is knocked down by the chemo, this promotes the growth of stem cells in the bone marrow and a higher number of cells can be harvested.

3) Dr. Burt's Theory: The chemo wipes out the bad cells and in return you are left with "healthier" stem cells for collection. 

Now that we have all of the medical technicalities out of the way, I must say that I feel pretty good today.  Last night, I felt that there was a war going on inside of me.  I was not running a fever, however I could not stop sweating.  Then, as they were running gallons of fluid through me to help flush out the chemo, the more I peed, the better I felt.  When I talked to the doctors about this, they said that it would not be uncommon to get a little "boost" after the chemo.  As you know, or don't know, patients with CIDP have an overactive immune system.  When the immune system is suppressed you actually feel better, but you will be more susceptible to colds and infections.  Therefore, you must be careful around large crowds and continually wash your hands.  So today, besides not having much of an appetite I do feel like I have a little more energy which I will take any time I can get it.  I have been warned that next week when I start my Neupogen shots, I will more than likely have flu-like symptoms and experience bone pain.  But we will worry about next week- next week.  For now I have been released from the hospital with no restrictions.  So I will continue to explore Chicago with Ann and the girls with no restrictions. 

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