|I entered the hospital on November 23. The transplant took place on the 27th as
scheduled. There were ups and downs, as always is the case with a transplant, but I
got to leave the hospital on Christmas Day. A week later, I was back in the hospital
with a respiratory infection. Another two weeks in the hospital before I was able to stay
at the condo for the rest of local recovery. The great encouragement was that the stem
cells had engrafted and my MDS was gone.
During the Seattle recovery there were numerous visits back to the clinic to continue
treatment of graft vs. host disease (GVHD). One series of treatments included being
put in a tanning booth to fight skin GVHD. There were also new treatments for a virus
that my donor's blood harbored, that her immune system could handle, but my
compromised immune system needed help from new drugs that had been
developed to help AIDS patients. I continued my recovery in Seattle and was finally
able to return home on March 1.
The next 16 months at home were again a roller coaster. Various infections, from
ingrown toenails to a fungal infection of the lungs, were interspersed with moments of
sheer happiness with minor victories like improved blood counts. An attempt at
getting off of cyclosporine (the immune suppressant drug that helps fight GVHD) was
unsuccessful. That meant at least 9 more months of this medication before they
would let me try another taper off of the drug.
Finally, in late 2004, there began a consistent improvement in my stamina and
strength. I could not be sure, but it seemed as if everything started to improve.
There were still periodic questions about the weekly blood tests, but hope became
It is now two over years after the transplant. I am cancer free and on my final taper
(hopefully) of cyclosporine. The miracle for me is that I feel as healthy and strong as I
did that September day when I went into my doctor's office for my yearly checkup.
There were times in my recovery that I felt I would never have my strength and vigor
back, but I kept on track - one day at a time. My reward is Christmas this year with my
fantastic husband, our seven children, four daughters- and sons-in-law and six
grandchildren plus the expectation of many more holidays with them all.
My prayers and wish to be with my family gave me the strength to survive my transplant
and my MDS. Just as important were the prayers from all my friends and family, who
joined me in this amazing journey.
I am a survivor!
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