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Arnie’s Rebounding World: My Stem Cell Transplant

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Published: Apr 12, 2011 11:45 am

After three months of induction chemotherapy with vincristine, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and dexamethasone (Decadron), I was ready for my stem cell transplant.

From the time I was diagnosed, all I kept hearing about was the stem cell transplant.  It seemed like the holy grail of treatment, and even as a physician I was somewhat mystified by the process.

Since I was fairly young (47) and otherwise in good health, there was no question that I was going to get a stem cell transplant.

The stem cell transplant used in the vast majority of multiple myeloma patients is an autologous stem cell transplant.  “Auto” meaning we are using our own cells.  An allogeneic transplant means the cells come from another donor and is rarely used as frontline treatment for multiple myeloma.

Part of the aura is the name “transplant.”  This to me created misconceptions about the procedure, conjuring up images of surgeons with masks and gowns implanting things.

Instead, the whole process goes like this:

First they give a medication to stimulate the body to produce hematopoietic stem cells, which are the cells that are the precursors to the different components of our blood, red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma cells, and platelets.  Once these cells have been produced, they are harvested by circulating your blood through a machine by a process call plasmapheresis and then stored.

A high dose of chemotherapy is then given, with the intent of completely destroying the bone marrow and wiping out as many of the cancer cells as possible.

The stored stem cells are then given back like a blood transfusion to jump-start the bone marrow to begin producing healthy cells. Resetting the hard drive is how some have described it.

The process is really all about the ability to deliver a higher dose of chemotherapy than would otherwise be possible to kill the cancer cells and then have a way to “rescue” the bone marrow and restore the immune system.

It is one more tool in the armamentarium, but not the Holy Grail.

For me, the process began with preparing to take time off.  I had never really taken any time longer than a one-week vacation from work.  This required a change of mindset.  I was going to be out of work for at least 2 months, and there was nothing I could do about it.

My wife and I took a short vacation as a “last hurrah” before the stem cell transplant.

Upon our return, I had an outpatient procedure to place a large catheter in my chest to be used for harvesting the stem cells.

I was then given Neupogen (filgrastim), the drug to stimulate the production of the stem cells, as a shot twice a day for five days.  Because it is stimulating the bone marrow, the Neupogen causes a strange throbbing bone pain.   Tolerable but enough to know it’s working.

The harvesting part is fairly easy, two days of hanging out hooked to the plasmapheresis machine.  Fortunately the harvest was successful, and enough cells had been obtained for more than one transplant if needed.

Since I was still relatively healthy and lived fairly close to the hospital, we elected to have the transplant done as an outpatient.  This meant traveling back and forth to the hospital everyday.

The week following the harvest, I received two days of chemotherapy infusions with melphalan (Alkeran), and then came the long awaited “day zero” or transplant day.

The nurse came in with a little IV bag of yellowish fluid, attached it to my catheter, and over 30 minutes the bag was infused.  “That’s it?” I thought.  “That was a big anticlimax; some transplant.”

It’s what comes next that you can’t prepare for.  Over the next few days the effects of the chemotherapy start to kick in: incredible fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and mouth sores that cause difficulty swallowing.

After the transplant, it takes 10 to 14 days for the cells to “engraft” or find their way to the bone marrow and start to function.   During that time, the white blood cell count and, therefore, the immune system go to almost zero.  This is the critical time.  With no defenses, any type of infection can be catastrophic.  We were constantly admonished by the nurses to check for fever several times a day, and anything over 100.5 °F required immediate return to the hospital, anytime of day or night.  I was at the hospital most of the time anyway.

Barely able to get out of bed, we drove to the hospital daily to receive whatever was needed that day to keep me going: IV fluids for hydration, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, usually with me trying to sleep through it.

I almost made it.  On day 9, I spiked a temperature and was admitted to the hospital.  Thankfully it was nothing serious.  The engrafting process itself can sometimes cause a fever.

The good news is that it does have an end.  On day 11, I started to engraft.  My white blood cell count was starting to turn around and creep up.  Recovery from that point is pretty steady.

Most of the nasty symptoms such as diarrhea and mouth sores resolve with engrafting.  The fatigue takes longer to resolve, but I was able to return to work in just under two months.

Next month I will write more about dealing with the fatigue and my time after transplant.

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Photo of Dr. Arnold Goodman, monthly columnist at The Myeloma Beacon.
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  • Stephanie said:

    Wow! You weathered the STC really well. My mom just had one, too. She had it as inpatient, cells transplanted on March 10th. She then had a month of hell. The high dose chemo was miserable. She only now feels somewhat human again. Good luck with the rest of your treatment! Stephanie

  • Lori Puente said:

    And did you smell like corn? The preservative used in the cells made my husband smell like corn for a few days. It is very anti-climatic. We did Tandem in Arkansas and the second transplant Dave had no side effects. We kept waiting for the shoe to fall and it never did. Not so for everyone, but quite a few weather the second one amazingly well. It was a long time that I learned that the transplant is not the 'treatment' but part of the whole process designed specifically to help in the recovery.

    Can't wait for your post on fatigue. That has been a huge hurdle.

  • Suzanne Gay said:

    I wish you well with staying off treatment after the transplant, which is what it's meant to do: keep you in "progression-free survival." Each of us reacts differently to this allotted time and it's a roll of the dice to see how long we can go before the M spike starts creeping up. I wish you many months/years off relapse treatment! Good luck and you will recover from the fatigue. I was back to pool aerobics after 60 days. Suzanne

  • Jan Hanson said:

    Your description of the autologous stem cell transplant reminds me so much of my experience 11 years ago. The differences are I also had total body radiation and I did the transplant as an inpatient for 3 weeks, but I remember thinking how anticlimatic the actual "transplant" was ...nothing more than a blood transfusion !
    I smelled of garlic for several days, and as I walked around the hospital floor, everyone would know right away I was a transplant patient by the odor that preceded me !
    The side effects were very difficult for me, especially the mouth sores. It was all I could do to swallow some water from melted ice chips. The diarrhea continued for several weeks, but the nausea,fatigue and diminished stamina are still a part of my life today. I tried going back to work after taking a year off for the treatments, but promptly landed back in the hospital with pneumonia. After a second attempt at working and just being sick constantly, I finally had to retire on medical disability. I had to have a second stem cell transplant to treat amyloidosis of the kidney in 2004, and experienced the same side effects.
    Being retired now, enables me to manage the fatigue - I can do as much or as little as I can handle that day - the only remedy is rest. I do have medication for the nausea that flares up with the fatigue.
    I feel very lucky to have had 11 years since diagnosis, and my husband and I have adjusted our lives to deal with the "new normal" as I know all of you have had to do . Positive mindset and thankfulness for everyday have helped me a lot, and I hope I have a long way to go still before relapse happens. There are a lot more treatment options and drugs available now, than when I first started this journey, so that is very encouraging.
    Has anyone had to have a third autologous stem cell transplant ???

  • Lea said:

    l enjoyed reading Arnie and Jans stories, they are so uplifting to me.Sharing how others handle this cancer and there transplant really help me with my own cancer. Thankyou for sharing and hope both well.

  • Julia Munson said:

    Oh boy! did your article bring back the whole thing. I thought I'd never get rid of the diarrhea, (about 2 months, and weight loss (about 6 months) and baldness!!! (at 9 months I finally look pretty good). Thank you for writing it all out, now I don't have to!
    As to the mouth sores, I sucked and chewed ice till I about froze to death - during the chemo and didn't get any mouth sores.
    We're all in this together. Julia

  • Craig said:

    These transplant stories brought back "memories" for me. I was diagnosed with MM almost 8 years ago after fracturing my L2 vertebrae, at my belt line. After 2 1/2 years of monthly Aridia, then Zometa treatments, I started the Thalidomide/Dex treatment for a year. In the middle of that year, I harvested my stemcells for the inevitable transplant. I did well taking nothing for a year and a half, then things got serious and I started the Revlimid/Dex treatment. In Oct '09, I had my stemcell transplant and I had the same experiences as the others above have mentioned. I sucked on 3 popsicles and a couple cups of ice chips and had no mouth sores.

    I restarted the Revlimid (w/o Dex) at a lower dose March '10 but by January this year I was experiencing a bloated gut with an almost constant pain below my ribcage, inability to eat much, and a backpain on the left side. After being diagnosed with pancreatitus, which can be caused by gall stones (I didn't have any), medications, traumas, or alcohol, I matched up a similar backpain episode I had 2 weeks after my chemo (melphalan) dose starting the transplant and my subsequent Revlimid doses. I stopped the Revlimid almost 2 months ago and haven't had a reoccurence of the backpains nor gut wrenching.

    Has anyone else experienced this? My local oncologist and the myeloma specialist I have been seeing are trying to decide on a new treatment after I have a bone marrow biopsy next week. It may be Velcade.

    I apologize for the lengthy post. I just discovered this site tonight.

  • patti said:

    We are new to this disease. My husband was diagnosed 2 months ago with a spine tumor and are also trying to figure out what the next steps should be after stem cell harvest. He is in remission with just Valcade and the prospect of stem cell transplant is frightening. I was interested in your experience at Moffit since we in Florida also. Like you, he is young compared to the national average. It is all a bit overwhelming yet.

  • Suzanne Gay said:

    to Craig & Patti: I took Rev/dex in the relapse setting after 15 months off treatment from the first ASCT at Shands in Gainesville (they have built a beautiful new transplant center with private rooms & bath unlike the first setting with potty behind a curtain!). The Rev/dex after 3 months gave me a DVT & I was not responding. so off I came into 8 treatments so far of Velcade/Doxil/dex once a week rather than the 2x weekly (which I insisted we try). Great response & no side effects except from the dex (high wired & sleepless night, then coming off into sleepiness, sometimes a mood swing which I fight). I am trying for a second transplant this summer (if insurance approves) ONLY to get off treatment (no maintenance). I guess I'm resolved to the reality that myeloma means treatment often until a cure? Suzanne

  • Craig said:

    Suzanne, I'm glad to hear that you're getting a great response from the Velcade treatments. And Patti, I'm also glad to hear that your husband is in remission with just Velcade. I had my first of weekly Velcade shots this morning. I'll be getting this treatment w/o Dex, thank goodness, because that stuff gets me high wired too. Hopefully, this won't "flame-up" my pancreatitus. It's been dormant for over 2 months.

  • New to MM said:

    I am new to MM, and only 46 years old, and started Velcade twice weekly along with Dex, with one week off. After two rounds my M-proteins were down 80%, with no side effects, except for some extremly mild neurophathy in the hands. I believe Velcade is a miracle drug! May be getting a transplant too, but it is still extremely frightning to me and I have not made a commitment yet.

  • Stephen Joachim said:

    Dear New to MM,

    I was 46 when I was diagnosed 7 years ago. So much has changed since then. I was put on thalidomide for about a month and then got prepped for an autologous transplant. You're right. It can be a frightening experience. The doctor told me I could keep taking medication, but they weren't sure what the long term side effects would be. It's a difficult decision to make. You'll miss work for a few months. I think it depends on several things.

  • Karen said:

    My husband Tom had autoglass stemcell March 29 and is very fatigue and not much appetite. Diagnosed w lymphoma b cell in March 2010 and in remission for one month and came back in Oct 2010. Next step transplant we have mri and ct scan in June to see if th cancer is gone .

  • Harryhorse said:

    I have just stumbled across this web site and it has been such a relief to read comments from such upbeat people who are in the same "boat".
    I had my Stem Cell Transplant Feb. 16th this year and am doing quite well apart from the almost constant fatigue. I am trying to get physically fit again by doing as much work around my two horses as possible and have just had my first ride out (guarded by my husband) which I considered to be a huge achievement for all of us involved in getting me out there!

    Good luck to everyone - it would be lovely if there was anyone else with an interest in horses. To date, I haven´´t met anyone here in England with Myeloma who was interested in horses and was managing to keep riding - any and all advice welcome. At present I just try to find another way of doing things - often much slower but I get there in the end.

    Best wishes to everyone.

    Kind regards


  • Michelle said:

    Hi, I was diagnosed in June 2010 & I'm 39 yrs old after a routine dental appt which I complained of a tingling feeling in my right lower jaw. My dentist did an xray & said he thinks I may have an "expanding lesion"& sent me to an oral surgeon for a biopsy which came back plasmacytoma. My oral surgeon referred me to my oncologist for further tests which resulted in high Kappa light chain counts (2968) & lambda (8362) & high 24hr protein. No symptoms other than tingling in my jaw. The Drs were amazed that my dentist even caught it cus it was so small. I was immediately started on Velcade/Dex2x weekly with Zometa 1x/mth for 6mths. My #s dropped in the 1st month (Kappa 68 Lambda 10) Ive been in near complete remission since. Velcade works for me except I started having terrible neuropathy 3-4 mths after starting velcade & was lowered ti 1x/wk. The dex was lowered after my 1st month also because of being high wired & mood swings. I was sched. fot stem cell transplant in Seattle but the insurance I have only covers 3 places to stay to recover after transplant. I stayed briefly at 2 of them & I knew right away they weren't clean enough for me after transplant. The 3rd was perfect but wasnt available for 3 mths. I started cytoxan 1x/wk & revlimid 25mg 21days on 7off. For 2mths. Rev was difficult to get on time & I ended up going 14+ days w/out it then taking it for 21/days again No help. My #s grew.(kappa 85 Lambda12) My Dr took me off after the 2nd round & said too much before stem cell harvest isnt good. I was off everything from Jan 24, 2011 until June 20, 2011 when I started Revlimid 10mg/daily. Except in April after I found UC Davis in Sacramento,CA. I did the SCharvest I took 9days of Neupogen 3pm morning & 2 shots of Mozobil. My throbbing bone pain & facial tingling was the worst part but manageable with benedryl. I collected 11.8million in 2 days! 2-3 transplants worth. I returned home in on April 22nd just in time to celebrate Easter. My dr wasnt happy with my (kappa 114 & Lambda 12) up from kappa 85 then i pointed out No meds just curcumin 450mg caps &vitamin D3 daily. Now My Kappa(96) lambda(8). But I just started Rev a week ago & we will see how it works. I'm thinking of just going & doing my 1st SCT in Aug but I'm not sure. I want to wait & see if I can keep it down on my own but my dr says u need to take the Rev & myeloma is tricky especially concerning because it grew on the cytoxan & we need to completely knock it out to put me in complete remission for longer & now is the time cause my #s are low. Is it normal for rev to make you tired & can it cause left side pain under rib cage? Sorry this is so long.

  • Yvonne said:

    I was diagnosed with MM in October 2010. I have been home only a week since my stem cell transplant. Each day I feel a little better, still trying to get pass my gag reflux and no appetite yet. I was in the hospital for 18 days which seems almost a blure to me today. The whole experience was almost mind boggling. Did suffer from severe diaherria and a bad sore throat, but staff were excellent on treatment to relieve. It's an absolutely amazing procedure and pray that my biopsy which is scheduled for January 6, will not warrant a second transplant. I do have to say, since I suffer from anxieties, this was quite a ordeal for me. In the hospital I coped quite well, but when I was nearing my release date my anxities seem to get the better of me. Once I arrived home it took me a few days to settle down, but thank God I am doing better everyday. For those of you that are frightened of the whole experience, I totally can relate. But I do have to say I'm glad I did it and thank the wonderful staff for helping me get through this.

  • Craig said:

    Michelle, ref my 14 April 2011 post above and the pain in my left side. Have your Dr check for pancreatitus with an unltrasound. I first experienced this pain in my back on the left side about 2 weeks after having Melphalan to start the stem cell transplant process. W/O an ultrasound, nothing was detected and the pain gradually went away the further I got from the transplant.
    After takin Rev for about a year for maintenance the pains came back. They would start when I started the 21-day cycle of Rev, and go away during the 7-day off part of the cycle. I took myself off of Rev (I was on vacation at the time) and figured out the timing of all of this and felt better. My atypical plasma cells were at only 2% back in April 2011. I started on Velcade w/o Dex in May and by October, a bone biopsy showed them to be at 70%, so, I'm having another transplant. I'm in a treatment cycle now with andriamycin/incovin/Dex and if I get down to 10% , I'll have the stem cell transplant.
    I've had no reoccurance of the pancreatitus pains. I've changed my diet so that has helped. However, I discovered in October that I am now a type II diabetic and that is one of the results of getting pancreatitus. That has really changed my diet and brought on a new set of concerns.

    I wish you good luck.

  • Felicia Brisco said:

    Im Felicia,a 45 year old African American female I have Cardiac Amyloidosis I was transplanted on Dec242010. Im 1 year post transplant I recieved 2cycles of velcade before transplant I went into partial remission.My MD decided to take me off velcade and get me ready for transplant at that time. Im like most people the velcade gave me horrific neuropathy in both feet and legs. I went to boston to recieve my transplant. My collection went great.I collected enough Stem for 2 transplants,and yes the harvest does smell like fish, corn or whatever .Just know that it stinks and people can smell you from a mile away .I had very little nausea ,with no vomiting.during chemo I had the worst time.My Drs suggested that I pack my mouth with ice to keep from getting mouth sores.This seemed liked tourture at the time, but guess what it works.....NO MOUTH SORES.During that time I felt very euforic,like I was in an outer body expeirience.I still suffer from fatigue.Because Im a nurse I had to stay off work for at least a year(until I recieved my first vaccines.) I went back to boston Jan.2012 for a follow-up.My overall reponce is great. My bone morrow has 0% protein in it. My unrine has a trace.My cardiac funtion is returning to normal.Im hanging in there and so should you

  • Anne said:

    I am a UK transplant patient, I had the transplant of donor stem cells on the 1 of February 2012. My conditioning treatment was Fludarabine, Campath and Melphalan, the latter being the chemo. I had aa reaction during the Campath, but little else of note. My counts came up very very quickly, one day they were nil and the next they were virtualy normal. So I was dicharged home. I had had a little GVHD in the form of a rash, now settled, and in my mouth. My skin is now very dry and scaly for which I used Diprobase and Eucerin, both creams to treat dry skin but the latter actually has some Urea in it to help hold the moisture, so far it is working.

    I have been in remission since last May and my post transplant bone marrow biopsy showed 100% donor cells and no sign of the disease.

    My hair fell out while I was still in hospital but is now growing back. The thing is that the rest of my body hair including eyebrows and eyelashes is only just falling out, 3 months posttransplant and I have symptoms that came in the aftermath of my first line chemo last year are only just happening. I know that the Melphalan was a very aggressive dose and I guess everybody's body is different, but it feels like a delayed reaction to the chemo. I feel cold all the time at the moment. I am still very tired, although I can do some things. I still have a lack of saliva and that only started about six weeks ago, at first I wasn't making any saliva, now I am producing, but it's very thick. I can't get any sense out of my doctors at the hospital they just seem ecstatic that I am in remission, am 100% donor cells and all of my tests are normal. However they are not the ones dealing with these extra symtoms and I need to know if they are normal. I am currently on Ciclosporin 40 mgs bd, Aciclovir, tds, Cefalexin bd which is prophylactic, Co Trmoxazole (Septrin) three days a week and Itraconozole 200mgs bd. I also occasionaly have to take anti sickness medication because the thick saliva makes me feel nauseous. I get up at least once during the night because it settles on my chest and I virtually have to vomit to bring it up and I do the same almost once during the day. All I bring up is the phlegm and sometimes if the gag reflex is very sensitive, I bring up bile. My chest is clear.

    I understand that the saliva issue will probably settle down in time, but the other symptoms I just started unnerved me a little because with the first line chemo last year, they happened in the first three weeks or so after the chemo ended.

    Not sure what I am asking for, reassurance I guess. I just want to have my energy back, but I am guessing that this is not going to happen until much later. I am 61 now, but was only 60 when the first line treatment and transplant were given.

  • Marcia said:

    Anne, I read about your difficulties with interest. I experienced the same thick stuff in my throat and mouth for a long time after my transplant (Dec. '10). I thought of it more as a sloughing off of dead mucous membrane cells caused by the high-dose chemo. I took a large paper napkin or two to bed with me every night until it finally stopped. And, yes, it did finally stop after about 3 months.

    Your biopsy numbers are just blowing me away. I had minor difficulties for the first 8 to 9 months following the transplant with fatigue. I went to physical therapy in a pool and found it extremely beneficial -- increased strength and balance but not draining. I had a bad chest cold in mid-fall and stopped my activities, but I had been doing very well up to that point. Now I am almost 1.5 years post-transplant. I felt like an entirely new person as soon as March arrived with much more energy. Some of it is also less anxiety about the illness and treatment I would guess.

    Best wishes to you for a long remission. Latest postings on new drug developments should really brighten your outlook!

  • Adrienne said:

    I was diagnosed with MM three months ago. I could not believe it. My blood count was low but it has always been low because I am an anemic. I didn't understand my treatment because one of my doctors wanted to start treatment ASAP and another Dr. in another city suggested I wait until I started having pain or infections. I am still a little confused because I thouhgt if a person was diagnosed with cancer the object was to start chemo asap. Anyone else experience this problem?

    I would love to keep my hair! does ayone know what I can do to keep my hair during the stem cell operation?

  • suzierose said:

    Hi Adrienne,

    Since there is no cure for multiple myeloma and therapy can cause side effects, unless the patient has organ damage or symptoms, then therapy is not recommended. The goal of therapy is to prevent further organ damage.

    The majority of patients with MM do not lose hair unless they opt to take high dose chemotherapy.

  • nancy shamanna said:

    Hi Adrienne....and Suzierose, Adrienne, is one of your doctors a hematological oncologist or myeloma specialist? They can help you to understand MM by steering you towards appropriate reading material beyond what you'll find here. There are differing levels of involvement, such as 'smouldering' (SMM), which can precede actual Myeloma, but may not progress to the disease. Anemia is one of the signs of myeloma...there is a system called CRAB to describe symptoms. Anemia is the 'A'. The whole disease is so complex, and there are differing varieties of it too, depending on your chromosomes, that I think you owe it to yourself to see a specialist and also do a lot of reading to better understand it. Fortunately, one does usually have some time to think about it before taking treatment. The treatments for myeloma, as Suzierose points out, will not necessarily cause you to lose your hair! Those sort of treatments, which involve your hematopoetic stem cells, were you to take them, would only be done after first having a course of chemotherapy to lessen the load of cancer cells in your system. Have you had the bone marrow biopsy test, set of X-rays or other scans and special blood tests to determine the level of 'light chain' proteins in your blood? So, anyways, don't worry about losing your hair ... please just get some clarification about your myeloma so that you can plan your treatments. There is a lot of information available on the Beacon site too...just go to the 'search' box on the top right hand corner and enter any topic. This online publication is a good place to start researching the topic too.

  • Stan said:

    Hi Adriene,
    Sorry to hear you were diagnosed.
    Most MM doctors do believe that stem cell transplants are one of the more useful tools in treating MM, especially for patients who are younger. Transplants do result in hair loss.
    I have a friend who is going through chemo for a different cancer and she actually had fun with the new styles of wigs that are out there.
    Guys have it easier, since being bald is "in" these days. On the other hand, a guy is not supposed to paint in eyebrows, and lack of eyebrows is a real giveaway that you've gone through chemo.
    I wonder why the toupee people haven't come up with a good eyebrow?
    To wait until you are in pain or suffer from infections before undergoing therapy, seems like bad advice to me.

  • Wanda said:

    I've had MM for the past year ,went though my tranplants in february was wondering when is the average time that people are off work .I'm still fatigued.and I also work with children.Just thinking about going makes me more tied.

  • Arnold Goodman (author) said:

    That a tough one because everyone is different. I don't think an average means very much. Working with children is certain a risk factor for infection. The doctors will probably say about 3 months, but again this is very variable. Some people chose not to return to work. There is no right and wrong answer.

  • Adrienne said:

    @ Suzierose... is taking the high dose of chemo optional? My Dr. seems to know for sure that I MUST have the high dose to clear whatever is left.
    @ Nancy... yes my local Dr. is the hematological oncologist she wanted to start treatment asap but after requesting a second opinion which was with a mayo clinic Dr. who suggested I wait they are both on the same page that I should wait because I am not experiencing any symptons. I have had a bone marrow biopsy test, set of X-rays or other scans and special blood tests. They all show myeloma about 60% I believe. Thanks, i'll do the search.
    @Stan...Thanks, the exploration of wigs would be a good option.I've never worn one before but I guess there is a first time for everything! LOL
    @Wanda... I was wondering how that would work also. I teach and work with kids who have colds, germs and all other things daily. Being that my system is already weak. I was wondering how that worked?
    Thanks everyone for your responses they really helped me.

  • suzierose said:

    Hi Adrienne,

    Yes, taking HDT is always a choice. You get to decide what therapy you choose. Your doctor recommends, you decide.

  • Adrienne said:

    @ Suzierose....did you take the HDT? If so how did you feel? How long were you off from work?

  • suzierose said:

    Hi Adrienne,

    Based on my 'high risk profile' taking HDT has a dismal outcome. So, I chose not to.

  • Prashant said:

    Hi all.
    I was dignosed MM in Nov-11. initially I was feeling pain in left side of chest. On some x ray & CTs it was confirmed that a lytic lesion in my chest rib. On biopsy it was confirmed as MM. C-reactive protein & kappa-lambda test of blood also suggested the same.. Bone marrow biopsy showed 60% plasma cells I went under the 4 cycles of chemotherepy of Bortezomib, linalidomide, zolta, dexamethasone.
    After that the kappa lambda were in limit & no M-band visible. Bone marrow biopsy also showed only 2% plasma cellls.
    My oncologist suggested me to go for SCT. On 4th July-12, i was given high dose chemotherepy with melphalan. & on 5th i was given autologus SCT. Today is my day+3. I am in special BMT rooms of hospital. Literelly caged rooms. Some side effects like mouth sores have started appearing from yesterday onwards.
    Keep in touch... I will update as the days progress.

  • Prashant said:

    When can I join my work in a typical Autologus stem cell transplant??
    some one have sujjested me to keep 6 months off after the transplant.
    I am not sure..

  • Beacon Staff said:

    Hi Prashant,

    We hope the side effects of your chemotherapy are manageable and that your recovery goes well.

    In the Beacon forums, a number of patients have shared their experiences with the stem cell transplant recovery process and how long it took them to return to work:

    In addition, the Beacon conducted a poll on the subject. You can view the results here:

  • Terri Smith said:

    Hi everyone. With my dx. Of mm in Oct. 2011 I began chemo in March w Velcade, Rev. & Dex. Did very well until May when I developed severe GI bleeding. After several stool cultures, CT scan etc. Dr determined that it was caused by the Velcade. So oncologist decreased dose to half then bleeding again on 4 cycle. Completed 5th cycle of Rev/Dex. Now getting prepared for harvesting, bone marrow bx. Tomorrow. Dr says that if labs look good then may just follow labs or until I become symptomatic. I want to proceed w transplant & NOT wait. I have 3 terrific grandchildren I want those for years to come & not have to worry about chemo, illness etc to happen whereas w SCTyou are pretty much free of restarting chemo in 3 or 6 mo. What are your thoughts on transplant after harvesting? I am willing to go through whatever occurs from it. My name is Terri & 60 yo going o 30!!

  • Arnold Goodman (author) said:

    The question whether to undergo stem transplant after induction therapy or harvest the cells and save them for first relapse is still open, either option is acceptable and patient preference is a big factor. If that is your preference make it known to your doctor. It seems like reasonable way to go.

  • Prashant said:

    @Beacon Staff
    thanks. It was very informative and useful.