Statistics are a double-edged sword. I knew before I agreed to try a stem cell transplant that there was a chance it wouldn’t work for very long–the average autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT or SCT) only provides 18 months of respite before the myeloma becomes active again.
That means one half of recipients have transplants which last longer than 18 months–but the other half fall below the 18 month mark.
But I knew that the odds were in my favor: I had been able to achieve a complete response (CR) for over two years. According to recent research, this is the number one predictor of a successful SCT.
After relapse, the four, three week chemotherapy cycles, using the industry gold standard, combining Revlimid, Velcade and dexamethasone (RVD), had left my bone marrow cancer free. This is the second most important predictor of a successful SCT.
True, I still had a small monoclonal protein measure–and M-spike of 0.2. But all of the indicators pointed to me achieving a complete response following my transplant.
Late Thursday afternoon, I learned that not only hadn’t I achieved CR, but my M-spike had actually GONE UP TO 0.5.
Pattie and I are stunned. You know going in that there is a statistical chance the transplant may not work. As a matter of fact, that was my worst nightmare! You allow doctors to fill you full of enough high dose chemo to kill your bone marrow. You endure weeks of discomfort and nausea. Your loved ones are filled with worry and forced to drop everything and take care of you for months. And let’s not get started about the cost of the procedure, time lost from work, travel expenses, lots of co-pays and drugs.
All of that–and then the transplant doesn’t work.
Statistically, I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t last very long–or may not work at all.
Fine. It doesn’t work. But who said anything about it making things worse?
I mentioned to a good friend this morning that this is a teachable moment. There is so much share. So much all of us can learn from this.
Over the next week, I will share my deepest thoughts and feelings about what just went down. More importantly, I will cover how Pattie and I decide to approach possible treatment options moving forward.
But for now, I need to take some time to let the bad news sink-in.
Lots of drama ahead! Stay tuned while I try to make the best of a bad situation. Anyone know where I can get one of those “Multiple Myeloma Sucks!” T-shirts?
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat