Monday, August 25, 2008

Caregiving Is Over For Now

On July 3, 2008 my husband entered Northwestern Memorial Hospital to begin a stem cell transplant. After receiving chemo for six days his own cancer-free stem cells were transfused into his blood stream. God directed the stem cells back to the bone marrow where they began to make new cells. This process usually takes 7-21 days. My husband's stem cells took 30 days. We had some anxious moments, days, and weeks as we anticipated the daily blood count reports. My husband had no immune system for almost the entire 30 days. He overcame what the doctors called pneumonia. We give God the glory for this. This could have been fatal, but it quickly disappeared. My husband was able to walk just about all of the 37 days he was hospitalized. It really was quite amazing. God is quite AMAZING.

Forty-eight days have passed since the stem cells have been transfused into my husband. His blood counts are much better now, but not normal yet. He is down to doctor check-ups every 2 weeks now and blood draws only once a week. As far as being his caregiver, well that is over for now and I hope it will not be necessary ever again. Of course, it is a joy to care for my best friend, but it is much better to live a life that is somewhat "normal".

In future posts I plan to share with you the peace that God gave me in the midst of the storm. I never want to forget how God carried our family through this storm of life. Comforting others in such storms will be my goal from now on.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cancer Victim Treated with Daughter's Cells

Before my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma, I really had no idea how much medical research was being done. I am so thankful that medical experts do such research. The following article is very interesting. It offers hope to the hopeless.

Cancer Victim Treated with Daughter's Cells in World First

A British cancer victim has been given a transplant of cells from her
daughter in a potentially life-saving world first that could revolutionise
the treatment of advanced cancer.

Fashion designer Joanne Scott, 53, was given just eight months to live after
repeated attempts at chemotherapy had failed to control her leukaemia and a
bone marrow match could not be found.

Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in London took cells from her daughter
Tara, 21, manipulated them in a laboratory and injected them into Ms Scott.
The natural killer cells were given a 'key' so they could lock onto any
remaining cancer cells and kill them off.

Just seven days later the natural killer cells have survived and multiplied
meaning she is in remission and the cells should now stop the cancer

She is the first person in the world to have the treatment and doctors
believe the same technique could work on other cancers that have spread
around the body.

Doctors are extremely excited at the breakthrough and will now treat another
14 patients with leukaemia and colleagues in America are hoping to use the
same technique on breast and ovarian cancers.

It could become a cheap, off the shelf treatment, for patients whose primary
tumour has been removed with surgery, but the cancer has spread to other
parts of the body.

Ms Scott, from north London, was first diagnosed with acute myeloid
leukaemia three years ago, on the same day her clothing line was first
launched in TopShop.

She had four courses of chemotherapy but relapsed after each one and a
transplant of her own cells also failed to stop the cancer.

When she relapsed for the third time and a bone marrow donor match could not
be found, there was nothing else doctors could do for her.

The team at the Royal Free suggested the clinical trial using a technique
devised by Dr Mark Lowdell, Honorary Consultant Immunologist, using the
body's own immune cells to fight the disease.

Ms Scott said: "When I relapsed again for the third time in three years I
thought that was it. I sorted everything out and talked to Tara. I didn't
get angry about it, I thought I've had a good life.

"But then my doctor suggested this trial and I jumped at it. I am quite a
pioneering spirit. Tara was excited by it too as she has always wanted to do
something to help me.

"I felt that I have given her life and now she is giving me life."

Tara spent three hours hooked up to a machine taking her blood and the cells
were then manipulated in the laboratory.

Natural killer cells circulate in the blood seeking out infections and
killing them. In order to kill cancer cells they must have two keys, in a
similar way as a nuclear bomb must be activated with two keys turned by
separate people.

But most natural killer cells only have one key so the team manipulated them
in the lab in order to give them the second key.

Two days after taking the cells from Tara, 57million of them were injected
into her mother and a week later Ms Scott now has 137million of the cells.

Tara, 21, who is studying anthropology at Goldsmith's, University of London,
said before the cells were taken she 'lived like a monk' trying to make sure
she was as healthy as possible.

"I felt if I ate one wrong thing or had one glass of wine that would affect
my cells and then it would be fault if something went wrong," she said.

"Before I felt like it was the last chance saloon but when I could help I
felt like I was part of mum's battle."

Ms Scott said: "I really feel that I can think about the future again
whereas I was saying maybe I shouldn't organise that as I might die next
week. I feel a lot more confident and more hopeful now."

She is in complete remission but if this does mot last and she may need a
repeated infusion of the cells at a later date.

Dr Lowdell said: "A lot of people see immunotherapy as a one off cure but I
think we have to think about it as a relatively inexpensive treatment. We
can give them repeat infusions until the patient is cured. It has a
potentially very great role."