I’ve been remiss in not posting the updates on Toshi’s progress for those of you who are graciously praying for her. (Thank you!!!) So I’m including two updates here…one explaining the entire autologous stem-cell transplant process, and then today’s update from Toshi’s husband. It’s a long read, but will provide any information that some of you might be interested in reading.
Latest Update – 9 May 2014
“Hi again everyone! Finally some good news to pass along today after a tough, tough couple of weeks… Toshi’s condition has just started to improve! The last week and a half, her white blood cell count (indicative of her immune system strength) has been steady at 0.1 (it was 35.5 before the high dose chemo) and she has been extremely weak and sick, sleeping most of the time. Yesterday her count moved a smidgeon to 0.5 and today it is up to 1.6. While these changes are very small, the medical team here feels confident that this is the work of her transplanted stem cells, that her new immune & blood system is finally coming online as expected and so we want to share it with you. Her throat has been very sore but it is feeling a bit better now. She has a little bit of energy today and is happy not to be catatonic again. This is some sunshine for us after a long, very difficult procedure.
Thanks for your prayers as always – please pray for Toshi’s recovery and recuperation. We gratefully give Father ALL the credit for bringing Toshi/us through everything so far.” (John, Toshi’s husband)
The Autologous Stem Cell Transplant Explanation
UPDATE from John (Toshi’s husband) April 29, 2014:
“Okay so this is a medium-long update but lots of important info so make yourself a tea and get comfy
As you know, last Thursday and Friday Toshi received high dose chemo that we pray has FINALLY wiped out her cancer, or is in the process of doing that. However (to review), that chemo is so powerful it would be fatal to her within a few weeks UNLESS she had a few bags of her stem cells harvested earlier and waiting, cryogenically frozen at Ottawa Canadian Blood Services. Of course that’s the case, yesterday those stem cells harvested from her a couple of weeks ago were driven back to Kingston General in a liquid nitrogen filled canister (see pic). Then each of the four IV bags of frozen stem cells (pink bag in photo) were removed from the canister one at a time, carefully thawed and given to Toshi through an IV line within 30 minutes. The process of giving her back all four bags of stem cells only took a couple of hours and was painless (look above Toshi in her photo, that red IV bag is her stem cells going in). That was Toshi’s stem cell transplant!
So now we wait… we’ll be here at the hospital here in Kingston.for the next three to four weeks Over the next week, as her old blood, marrow and immune system withers and dies, Toshi’s immunity will pretty much drop to zero. She’ll be in relative isolation to avoid any infections like cold, flu, etc., that would be disastrous to her with no immunity to fight any bugs off. By about day 14 after the transplant, her stem cells should pretty much be kicking in, creating her new blood, marrow and immune system. After that we’ll be waiting a couple of weeks for her white blood cell counts, etc. to reach safe levels… THEN she can come home and we’ll look forward to Toshi’s recuperation, and our new lives together without cancer (that would be nice!)
We trust and pray the cancer is gone or in the process of dying. Regular interval testing following our return home and over the years ahead will confirm that Toshi is, and will remain to be, cancer free.
Thank you again for all your prayers and love coming at us throughout all of this and the past year+ of Toshi’s illness and our journey. I’ll update again a few more times until we leave Kingston. For now Toshi is okay, dealing with nausea and weakness. I give her some “exciting” moments driving her in the wheelchair down at the waterfront which is just a hundred metres from the hospital! – she screams once in a while but she likes it.”
Toshi, happy to finally be receiving her stem cells back after that beautiful, nasty chemo! That’s Nancy to her left, one of the FANTASTIC stem cell unit nurses with her thumb on the IV flow control. Her colleague Rosie (not seen) is to the right of camera monitoring the process and telling Nancy what to do! lol