“If God brings you to it; He will bring you through it.”
Hey everyone, it’s transplant day +73.
I apologize for not posting an update over the last few weeks. A lot has happened recently, and I wanted to make sure that we had all the information before we shared the news.
Unfortunately, a small amount of leukemia was detected on Brandon’s day +60 bone marrow biopsy. We had hoped that the transplant would wipe out all of the leukemia cells, but knew that this was not guaranteed.
This does not mean that Brandon’s transplant has failed, but it is certainly not the optimal result. Knowing that Brandon’s probability for relapse was high, his transplant doctor has been very cautious during this process. Thankfully, this allowed them to find the leukemia in its early stages.
We have been anxiously waiting over the last few days to hear the next steps for Brandon’s treatment. Yesterday, his case was presented at a Stem Cell Transplant Department meeting. A unanimous decision has been made to move forward with an aggressive treatment to knock out this residual leukemia. They are planning on enrolling Brandon in a 6 month trial where he will receive a combination of chemotherapy and his stem cell donor’s white blood cells in consistent intervals.
One of the benefits of a stem cell transplant is that the donor’s T-cells (a type of white blood cell) have the ability to seek out and destroy cancer cells in the recipient’s body. In the early stages of a transplant, while the donor’s cells are engrafting, there is not an abundance of these T-cells to fight off aggressive cancer. This trial will combine a specific type of chemotherapy that is used to target acute myeloid leukemia cells with multiple infusions of the donor’s white blood cells. The idea is that the chemotherapy will weaken and destroy the cancer cells, while the infusions of the donor’s cells will provide Brandon’s body with a large amount of T-cells that will continue to fight off the cancer.
I would like to clarify that this is NOT a second stem cell transplant. The transfusions of the donor’s white blood cells will be providing Brandon’s body with a supplemental dose of T-cells to help fight off Brandon’s leukemia.
This is the most aggressive treatment they offer for patients in Brandon’s situation, but they feel that because of his overall good health that he is a good candidate. It is imperative that they hit this leukemia hard in its early stages before it has the chance to snowball into something that is more difficult to treat. Research has shown that this treatment has the chance to put Brandon back into a complete remission where his donor’s cells will take over and replace the leukemia.
As it stands, the doctors are waiting to proceed until they get approval from Brandon’s stem cell donor for another white cell collection. Once they get the green light from the donor, they will be starting with the chemotherapy since Brandon will not be receiving the cells until a few weeks later. They are hoping that they can start the chemotherapy within the next week. Please keep Brandon’s stem cell donor in your prayers. He has done so much to save Brandon’s life and I pray that he will continue to offer his love and support.
It has been very disappointing to receive this news after the amazing results of Brandon’s day +30 bone marrow biopsy. While there have been many tears over this development, we are ready and willing to continue fighting this battle. Our “never give up” motto has carried us so far, and we will carry that with us into the next parts of our journey. We trust that God is leading us down the right path and continue to believe in His greater plan.
We have the upmost trust in the amazing team of doctors at MD Anderson, knowing that God is leading their way. This is the place that miracles happen. There are so many brilliant doctors that have come together to look after Brandon and make decisions for his care. I am so thankful for their kindness and support in difficult times, especially this week.
Thank you all for your continued love and support. Please send big prayers as we head into the next part of our journey. Please also pray for Brandon’s donor that he is able and willing to donate more cells to save Brandon’s life.
In honor of Brandon’s continued fight against leukemia, our friends and family will be participating in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light The Night Walk on October 15th at Stanley Park in Vancouver. The walk starts at 4pm at Lumberman’s Arch. Please send me a message if you would like to join our team.
I will be sure to update everyone as soon as we receive any news about this upcoming treatment.