Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Transplant for the Cure - A Bump in the Road

Janette Luehrman Fuller and Karen Luehrman at the
University of Kansas Cancer Center.
The Cancer Treatment Center of America in Tulsa was an awesome place, but the treatment that Karen received there did not result in remission. Her doctor said she needed a stem cell transplant.

A medical professional shared an analogy about how chronic lymphocytic leukemia works that really stuck with me. She told us to imagine a movie theater shooter. A deranged person goes into a dark movie theater and starts randomly shooting. Many movie viewers are caught off-guard and are killed. However, some run out into the lobby, some hide under the seat and some play dead. They stay hidden until it is safe to come out. I know this is distasteful imagery, but she said this is how the cancer cells survive repeated chemotherapy treatments. The cancer cells will go into hiding, but they will not be permanently destroyed.

Karen's health insurance would not cover a transplant at the Cancer Treatment Center of America, so she was referred to the University of Kansas Cancer Center. She had her first appointment at the bone marrow clinic in April, 2015. Since she already had a donor (that would be me), things moved along pretty fast.

The date of May 29 was set for a stem cell transplant at the KU Hospital. I was given the following pre-transplant tests:
  • A chest x-ray.
  • Blood tests.
  • EKG.
  • Consultation and consent.
My tests were all acceptable and I signed the required paperwork (I will share more about this in a later post). The only thing we were waiting for was the results of Karen's bone marrow biopsy.

Karen posted the following message about the results of her bone marrow biopsy on Facebook dated May 18.

Ok, time for an update. I was scheduled to go in the hospital this Saturday to start the pre-transplant procedures and have the transplant on Friday, May 29. All of that has been POSTPONED! I consider this good news.
I was called this morning to come in to see the doctor about the results of my bone morrow biopsy last Wednesday. I had a biopsy 4 weeks ago in Tulsa. In just 4 weeks, the results changed from being CLL/SLL to PLL( Prolymphocytic leukemia), a more active, aggressive form of lymphocytic leukemia. I consider this good news because it was caught early and a treatment plan of using a monoclonal antibody (not a chemo drug) that targets the lymphocyte cells will be started this Wednesday. I will have to go up for shots 3x a week for 4 weeks and then do another biopsy. When it is in remission, the transplant can be done which is still a possible cure.
So, thank you to all who have volunteer to help me. It looks like now it may be around the middle of July before I need to reschedule people. Watch for updates!
I am still standing on the Word of God ( Is 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24) that through the atonement on the cross, Jesus bore my sickness and disease and by His stripes I am healed. It doesn't matter how many doctor's reports I get to the contrary, that does not change what Jesus has already done for me. Through Heb 11:1 and Mark 11:23 faith, I will hold on to these precious promises to see them come to pass.

I had my airline ticket purchased and was ready for the trip from Houston to Kansas City when I received this news. I cancelled the tickets and waited.

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