Yesterday’s visit to the clinic went really really well: scan shows Brentuximab has worked …and I heard the word “remission” …which was nice!!! We also had a very interesting and frank discussion with the doc, he went into great detail on what choices there will be moving forward.
The immediate question is do they give me the rest of my planned Brentuximab (another 2 doses) or move straight on to the auto stem cell transplant? The multi disciplinary team have decided (and we agree) that it would be best if I tried to have more of the Brent, as was the original plan, then move on to the auto transplant. However because of the reaction I had last time I’m being admitted onto a ward on Thursday. I will overnight and they’ll give me lots of steroids and antihistamine. On Friday morning they will give me the Brent under close supervision over the next 24 hours. So I’ll be there until at least Saturday (all things going to plan!). Then it will be a review of how it went, and I’ll either the last dose in 3 weeks time …or if it was a nightmare, straight onto the auto transplant.
So I am a bit apprehensive as to whether I’ll react again (for some people it gets easier each dose, for others it gets worse), but at the same time fully supportive of sticking to the plan and completing the course. I just have to put my faith in the professionals!
The other bit of news is that there is now talk of a “tandem transplant”. This is where I’ll have the auto as planned …and then about 3 months later have an allogeneic transplant. The reason they might want to do this is because I’ve had such stubborn disease with really brief periods of remission after the 2 previous treatments (ABVD and ESHAP). Apparently an allogeneic transplant (using a donors stem cells) works in a different way to an auto or regular chemo and has a much higher chance of providing a long-term remission. However the downside is it takes far longer for your body to recover and the risks of short and long-term complications are higher. So we need to weigh up the pros and cons.
Anyway what I have been saying all along is that the way I have to handle this (and keep my sanity) is tackling this step by step, living in THE NOW, not worrying what tomorrow will bring. At this stage I can’t even begin to contemplate a second transplant. I have this next Brent session to get through and then we will see what comes next!
Thank you all so much for following my progress …and I really do appreciate the messages of support. I am lucky to know such a great bunch of folks!!!