Transplant Day +73

“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.

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NEVER GIVE UP!

Transplant Day +58

Hey everyone, It’s transplant day +58!

I can’t believe we have almost made it to two months post-transplant! On transplant day, looking forward to day +100 seemed like this huge mountain we had to climb. Reaching day +60 means that we have reached another peak! I have to tell you, the view is beautiful! I am so thankful that we have made it to another important milestone and that Brandon is continuing to heal and improve every day.

We have continued with our Tuesday/Friday transplant clinic schedule and it has been wonderful! We’re still doing Brandon’s electrolyte and fluid infusions from home, which has been working out perfectly. Brandon’s blood cell counts continue to be fairly stable despite starting the new remission maintenance medication last week. However, he did need a shot of G-CSF to boost his white blood cell count on Tuesday since his neutrophils were getting a bit low. This is par for the course at this point after transplant. It will be many months before his blood cell counts normalize. I am just thankful that they are trending in the right direction!

With day +60 quickly approaching Brandon will be put through another series of tests to check his progress. Tomorrow, he will be having another bone marrow biopsy to search for any lingering leukemia and to see what percentage of his bone marrow are his donor’s stem cells. 30 days ago we got the best possible news when we learned that Brandon was in a complete remission and that 100% of his marrow consisted of his donor’s cells. We are hoping and praying for the same results. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as Brandon goes through this second round of post-transplant tests.

Brandon is continuing to improve and get stronger every day. The progress he has made since coming home is unbelievable. He can now make it through an entire day at the hospital without a wheelchair and he can do much more for himself on days at home. It is absolutely wonderful to see him getting back to being himself. He still has his tough days, but they are getting few and far between.

We have finally started to talk about life after leukemia and a stem cell transplant. With so much unknown this was something we hadn’t discussed for quite some time. We didn’t know what was happening in the next week, much less the next month or the next year. Last night we lay in bed and shared our dreams about our life moving forward. I can’t tell you how long I have been waiting to have that conversation. I knew it would come in time, when Brandon had begun to settle into his recovery and see himself as a cancer survivor. Last night I smiled ear-to-ear as he told me about his hopes and dreams. Life is truly beautiful and I am thankful for every day that I have Brandon by my side.

I am endlessly thankful for all the love and support that we continue to receive. We are so blessed to have such an amazing support team behind us on every step of this journey. I will continue to keep everyone updated as we continue with Brandon’s recovery.

Next stop: transplant day +100. I can’t wait to see the spectacular view once we arrive.

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