Since Mama Pham has responded well to the last two rounds of chemo (no Leukemia cells present!) we are clear to move on to the Donor Lymphocyte Infusion! Dates below:
July 6th, 2015: Awesome donor uncle gets labs (must be within 7 days of donation)
July 9th: 2015: Awesome donor uncle sits with an apheresis machine and donates lymphocytes
July 10th, 2015: My mom gets the lymphocytes and we being our journey of watching for Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD) and hope for full remission forever and ever!
Last month, I attended the Stanford Big Data in Bioscience conference. My mom had labs and a possible transfusion during one of the conference days, so I conveniently dropped her off at the Stanford Cancer Center, parked in free patient parking, and walked around the corner to attend the conference on the university campus. One moment I was on the patient side, and a couple of blocks later, I was on the provider side, talking to physicians and clinicians as my peers in this quest to bring better care to patients and better decision making capabilities to doctors. Talk about integrating work and life into one!
During the conference break, I ran into the Asian American Donor Program students who were hold up a lovely sign that said “Will you marrow me?” If you have not yet, you can help save lives like Mama Pham’s by going to register at Be the Match! It is a very simple process of sending in saliva samples, and if you are lucky enough to be a donor, the donation process is pretty simple as well! It just involves some lab draws, a physical exam, and several hours on an apheresis machine!
Today is biopsy day! This is the biopsy after 7 rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant (January 2014). The results of this biopsy will determine if we move forward with the Donor Lymphocyte Infusion (DLI). If still in remission, then proceed with DLI. If not, then must discuss other, more difficult, conversations.
While driving to the hospital with my mom, listening to stories of her early years in Vietnam, and later working remotely from the hospital waiting room, I felt a wave of gratitude and joy for the ability to be with my mom and advocate for her and others during this time.
Today is the last day of Chemotherapy #7! Mama Pham got a dose of Vincristine in about 10 minutes and is free to go home to await the blood count recovery process. When we started this journey in August 2013, I met people who were on their 6th or 7th round of chemo and thought that just seemed so far away. It seemed so exhausting, so extensive. Now, one and ten months later, time has flown and sometimes I cannot believe all the things that my mom’s body has endured. She is the strongest 85lb woman I know.
Over the past almost two years, we went from one procedure to another, one round of chemo to another, one blood draw to another, and slowly just walked our road to beating cancer. Each day was another day of hope, hope that the next blood count wouldn’t yield any blasts (Leukemia cells) in the blood stream, hope that we will be in remission forever. Hope sustains us and keeps us charging forward.