Thursday, November 4, 2021

Long Overdue Update

 What a true hero looks like!

I can’t believe my last update was in 2019. I truly apologize if that caused any concern about my recovery.  Fact is, I’m pleased to report all is going well.  I’m pretty much back to normal life.  My hair is back.  My weight is back to pre-treatment levels.  I’m active and doing as much as I feel I can within the confines of the pandemic.  When COVID first appeared, my oncologist warned me to be extremely vigilant…saying that I was extremely vulnerable to a bad result because I was immunosuppressed.  However, once I got to my two-year anniversary of the transplant, his concerns were diminished to the point that he felt I was pretty much in the same boat as everyone with regard to COVID.  As a transplant patient, I was able to get my vaccine early in the game…on my birthday in January, actually.  I have since gotten my booster shot and am as well protected as is possible.  Additionally, I participated in a clinical trial to determine if the vaccine would be effective in building antibodies to mitigate an infection.  The results were that I have ample antibodies generated by the vaccine to fend off the disease.  Surprisingly, I also carry antibodies from having HAD the disease.  So apparently, I did get COVID at one point this past Spring.  I was completely asymptomatic…never knew I had it. 

I am no longer taking any cancer related drugs.  I’ve had a few bone marrow biopsies and with even the most cutting edge diagnostics, I’m very happy to report that no cancer cells can be detected for either multiple myeloma or leukemia.  Someone upstairs is definitely watching over me.  I’ve very grateful.

On the subject of gratitude, meet Jake.  Jake is a 30-year old gentleman living in London.  Jake literally saved my life.  Jake has been a regular blood donor over the years and checked a box to indicate he would be open to donating stem cells if someone in need matched up to him.  I was that person in need and when Jake was asked if he wanted to follow through in the painful process of sending his cells to a stranger, he didn’t hesitate.  He underwent the procedure (underwent literally…he went under!) to harvest his stem cells.  The cells were immediately sent via courier to my hospital room.  They were transplanted to replace my blood DNA.  And now, Jake and I are literally blood brothers.    During the initial two years after my transplant, we were able to send communications to each other through the blood marrow donor registry with the caveat that no personal identifying info could be exchanged.  After two years, we were able to connect and we’ve actually had a live online session where I met Jake and his family.  Jake and his lovely fiancĂ©, Emily, are scheduled to be married in September in Greece.  We are invited to attend, but it is our hope that we can actually gather in Europe next summer prior to the wedding.  It all depends on the COVID situation.  I cannot express enough how grateful I am to this young man.  He did all of this out of the goodness of his heart.  He is truly a mensch in every sense of the word.

Once again, sorry if I got anyone worried by not doing an update.  I’ll try to do better.