The Stem Cells

Its March 2015 and we were just told Scott’s tumor in his chest is still “lighting up.” This is obviously not what we had hoped for. Our “cancer journey” was supposed to end here, after 6 cycles of intense chemo we were supposed to be done. We were told that the spot that is “lighting up” could just be inflammation and not that serious, but deep down we knew otherwise.

Our local oncologist referred us to a stem cell doctor in Atlanta for further treatment. Let’s just say this meeting was a bit frightening. We had no idea what stem cell therapy/transplantation was, so we were skeptical, nervous and a bit overwhelmed. The doctor described it as your body being a garden that needs to be uprooted, raked, tilled, replanted and watered. This doctor harvests your stem cells, basically kills all the good, bad and ugly cells in your body and then inserts your stem cells into a new, clean environment. Sure the garden metaphor was great, but didn’t make it any less frightening! Stem cell transplants are no walk in the park and are risky. Scott had just endured so much sickness that this was a whirlwind of an idea none of us saw coming.

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We kindly thanked the doctor for his time, went to lunch and regrouped. Was a stem cell transplant really what needed to happen? This seems really extreme. Shouldn’t we get another opinion? Yes, we really should. 

[We had about a 3 month window before Scott’s next PET scan which would show the tumor actively growing – the Lymphoma was not gone.]

We had to find other doctors and find them fast. There was no time to be wasted. Scott’s life literally hung in the balance. Sure we remained hopeful that the next PET scan wouldn’t show any growth, but it didn’t stop us. We started our search. We googled all sorts of specialists around the country and kept coming to one conclusion – we have to go to Houston. Houston – the home to THE BEST CANCER CENTER in the United States – MD Anderson. So we booked our flights. Our moms, Scott’s brother and us. Scott finally got his mom to fly in an air plane. Her first flight, but not the last.

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