“For God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11
Week 2, started off calm because after 7 days of high-dose chemotherapy, your body needs to rest before the stem cell transplant. So, the two rest days in my plan were the EASIEST days of my entire time in here. These days I spent with visitors because for the first time I felt like myself. I didn’t feel or look like a zombie. Even, the nurse managers and other nurses were happy to see that I was talking and smiling.
Day -2 It was the calmest day that I’ve had here. It just felt great to rest, sit in the chair, and look up at infusion pump to see no drugs, just fluids and heparin(blood thinner). A beautiful site, I was able to walk to the shower, walk the hallway for exercise, and ride the exercise bike. I thanked God more times than I could count that he got me through the hard part. I felt optimistic, I could do anything. And around 11am, my Rider college teammate Kara, came to visit me. Quick story, Kara hosted me on my official visit at Rider, she was my first friend at Rider, we were roommates my Freshman year, and our families became close over our years and remain close. Our families came to all our games, even though we lost all time!! haha She came all the way from South Jersey to see me, spend time, not once but twice. We literally talked about everything possible, haha. Kara, thank you for always being a friend, sister, family, supportive, genuine, my only teammate literally that caught every pass I gave (LOL), funny, loving, trustworthy, and honest. I appreciate you coming to visit me and checking up on me everyday, I love you and geezzz I knew you for 13 years. Wowwww..
Day -1 Another peaceful day for the most part, I had another visitor Tanisha, she came to visit me, encourage, talk, and pray for me, which she knows I always ask her to do. Tanisha, I continue to say that I am proud of you, and I am happy to see how God continues to use you to lead. Our talk was definitely refreshing, your note of encouragement has been a daily remember, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God’s power is definitely made perfect for weakness, because His grace is sufficient when I feel so low. It’s a reminder, it will only get better!! So, thank you Tanisha for coming, love you girl and thank you for praying for me and I can’t wait to wear my hoodie. At 11:00 p.m. the fluids on the infusion pump were turned up at 150mL, to prepare my body for my stem cells. Back and forth to the bathroom, I went but not as bad as those cytoxan days.
Day-9 to -1 was over, the first phase was over. I made it through by God’s grace.
Every morning, the team makes their rounds. My doctor, Dr.Bayer, the fellow (oops forgot her name, she’s really nice tho), and NP (whoever is there that day). This is the time to talk to your doctor, voice your concerns, and ask questions you maybe confused about, so make sure you have your questions listed, or someone is there to advocate for you if you can not do it yourself. This is the most important part of your day! Thank God, I am able to ask and talk to my doctors, I need to make sure I know what is going on. It feels great to know your in good hands, all my questions and concerns were answered in detail. Too many times patients are so sick that they can’t ask the doctors questions and it presents more complications. You are in charge of your health keep that in mind, you only get one body.
My last blog, I forgot to tell this story so, but this is relevant. My second day here, November 15th, my night nurse Laura, introduced me to my day nurse, she said this is Evelyn. I remember asking her name again, and she said Evelyn, but, some people call me Evie. I started laughing, she said what happen. I told her my Nana who passed away name was Evaline aka Evie and a registered nurse and showed her a picture. She said don’t worry I’ll take of you like my baby. She’s the senior nurse her and oldest here, she literally treats me like her granddaughter and reminds me of my Nana. That was God’s way of saying I got it and I will take care of you. She takes care of me the most and one of my favorites. So, thank you Evelyn, I got her to take a picture me with me. And I will never forget her, she has literally taken care on my worse days.
Day 0 At 4:30 am, I got up a little earlier to do my devotional and pray before I got my stem cells. “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 & “25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”Lamentations 3:25-26 I was up praising God in advance, but I felt this calm feeling and it was a beautiful, it was God’s presence. And He said this is the last time, I shook my head in agreement and yes it is. I believe Him and trust in Him. Wait on the Lord, it is never on your time, but on His time.
Dr. Bayer came in early around 9am to explain what was going to happen when my stem cells were put in. And, she wished me a Happy 2nd Birthday and said she will be back. My Birthday was scheduled for 11:30a.m. My Dad, Ozzie, and Clarine(she surprised me & came, she was late as usual so she missed the cells, lol thank you sister for coming,) were all able to be there for this special moment which I really appreciate it and was happy they could share that moment with me. My dad comes mostly everyday, unless I tell him to stay home and I really appreciate that he comes because without him coming I would not have clean clothes, water, and company. Plus it’s always great to have your only parent left to support, tell you they love and they’re proud of you. So, thank you Daddy(this still isn’t the big blog love post lol) I love you very much. My science mind brother Ozzie, this was perfect for you and I was happy you were there to help explain the process. My nurse Soby, another one of my favs she’s the technical nurse, I always tell her she needs to be a professor, because she would be a great teacher. She’s my other day nurse, I have a lot, she explained the process of the stem cell transplant, so I hope I do you justice Soby. hahhaa Because, the chemo killed all of my cells (red, white, platelets) and the last drug bought my white blood count (WBC) down to 0.1, my immune system is wiped out. I take about 9 pills a day to protect my liver, other organs, multi-vitamins, folic acid and pneumonia blocker. To put it in context, a baby has a better immune system than me. In order, to fight infections you need your white blood cells, my white blood cells were damaged because there were cancerous, so that chemo killed them. Now, in order for you to collect healthy stem cells, the cancer in your body has to be gone or reduced significantly. And during that time, they try to hurry up and collect your cells.
What happens during a stem cell transplant?
- Your nurse along with numerous people check several times to make sure the stem cells are yours, they check your bracelet and ask your name.
- It is a procedure, not a surgery, so it is hooked up to your IV pole, it hangs and it drips by gravity into your IV. It takes about an hour.
- Your stem cells (white blood cells) have to spread throughout your body until it reaches the bone marrow. Once, there it takes 10 to 14 days to start growing in which your WBC will rise, it is a steady pace, once your count gets to 0.2, that means you have a WBC, it takes a while so be patient.
- Because your red blood cells and platelets were also killed, you will need to get transfusions. Your hemoglobin level is very important, stem cell transplant patients are anemic automatically, so we have to sustain a certain level. Platelets are needed as well because when you bleed, you need not to bleed severely and excessively.
- This is the reason why I am isolation, I do not have an immune system and I need to be protected.
- You get a Kepivance injection on Day 0, Day+1, Day+2, for protection of your mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Your mouth is swollen with extra fatty tissue.
I hope I did you justice Soby, lol. But here is a little video of my stem cell transplant. Video courtesy of my Dad!!
I was given Benadryl before the stem cells and I needed another blood transfusion so I got it right after. So, I was sleep for 5 hours and once again, I was woken up by a presence. A surprise visit from Yanie and my sis/Fab4/friend Lauren. That was definitely a great visit because I didn’t feel too good when I woke up. They definitely tried to get me to turn up, haha It was a much needed visit, especially when Lauren came. She drove up from VA, thank you Lauren, that you care and love me that much that I was one of your first visits. You check on me all the time and always do your wellness calls, which I always appreciate. You really are a gem, down to earth, honest, funny, genuine, loyal, thoughtful, and thank you for sistership for over 15 years and for praying for me. So, Yanie and Lauren thanks for the visit, it was on time!!
Day +1 Thanksgiving Day, for days I was thinking of all food I was going to eat. But, when I woke up in the morning, my mouth was swollen and my throat was sore. Elton, came up early to spend time with me which is always great. Elton, I know I annoy you and get on your nerves and vice versa, but thank you for literally everything. You have taken care of me when you didn’t have to. Three and half years, we’ve been together, and when it got tough you did not leave. That speaks to your character, I know you will stick around through the hard times and that makes me feel secure knowing that you won’t run when things get hard. And that is why I love you and appreciate you even more because we are not engaged or married, you could have left anytime, but you stayed and continue to stay with me making sure that I am doing okay and you are genuinely happy to see my progress. I know this has been rough for you, but hopefully, while you on this journey with me, you see how much I believe and trust God for my complete healing and that trust helps you navigate life. You have done anything I asked and go out your way to make sure I am provided for, especially since I can not physically work for a while, and even though it may not be easy you just try to ease that burden for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the best friend, love, support, genuine, caring, kind-hearted boyfriend, God has sent for me. I love you very much and I look forward to our future.
My waves of food came in along with my family. Clarine came with Ava, I didn’t know Ava was coming. Clarine brought me some mac & cheese, ribs, and cucumbers. I couldn’t eat the ribs because I was having difficulty swallowing. I love Ava, but I did not want her to see me like that because I think she’s too young and I didn’t want her to have that view of me stuck in her head. It hurt my heart seeing the sad look in her eyes, I didn’t want her to think I was that sick and I would pass like my mom. So, I made sure to put a smile on my face, even though I didn’t feel good at all. And because we are so used to kissing and hugging, she couldn’t touched me it was hard. But, it is always to fulfilling to see my Ava, my first daughter, I love you Ava Lynn. And thank you sister for my food and sharing your child with me.
Later on after Elton left, because he went to Corey & Crystal’s for thanksgiving, Ozzie, Jaylen, & Christian came to bring me their food that cooked at 132. My dad arrived a few mins later. The food was good except, never mind hahaa, I ate all the food that was soft for me to swallow. But, thank you to the men of my family for coming today and spending the Thanksgiving evening with me. I know I will laugh at least once whenever my siblings come around doesn’t matter who it is. The more the better, but when the boys get together their conversations are definitely all the place but the nonetheless comedy. Thank you Daddy, Ozzie, Jaylen and Christian for coming spending Thanksgiving with me and making sure I didn’t feel left out.
Day +3 My mouth and throat was sore that I had to numb my mouth to try and eat. I was in pain and it wasn’t a good day for me. I spent it mostly in my recliner, I was so tired I couldn’t get up to take a shower. As bad as I felt, I was still optimistic that it will get better tomorrow and it did, well sort of.
Day +4 I woke up, for the first time ever I found out the effects of the Kepivance. It wore off, my face was swollen, the fatty lining thinned out. My mouth, teeth, and throat hurt so much. My stomach was swollen and inflamed. All of this was from the effects of the chemotherapy, it burned through my mouth and gastrointestinal tract. And other women health issues didn’t help, so I was prescribed some pills to slow because it made things worse. Even, with all of this I still felt better than Friday, which was unbelievable but, hey praise God for small victories. My brothers came to visit me again, we watched the Knicks game, laughed, and had a great time. I felt better than Friday, so I thought wow, Sunday is going to be much better.
Day +5 At 12:00 am, it went all downhill I had 103 fever, at 1:00am the Nurse Practitioner came in and asked me so many questions. I was given tylenol for the fever. It went down, but I probably got about 2 hours of sleep. At 5:30am, I woke up and when I say This was the worst day of my life!!! I mean it, I never felt any pain like this in my life it’s an indescribable feeling. My mouth, gums, teeth, and throat felt terrible. If you ever had your wisdom teeth grow in and remember how it felt cutting through your gums, that is how all my teeth felt.It hurt to chew, I could not swallow, so I could not eat solid foods. I could only eat soup and drink tea. My stomach was inflamed and my body was weak, I could barely stand. I was in the recliner all day, because you don’t want to stay in the bed. I called my Dad early to tell him not to come visit because I didn’t feel good. But, my hemoglobin and platelets were soooo low. My hemoglobin was a 5 (normal level is 11-15) and my platelets were 17( normal 150-300) , my doctor wants to keep my platelets above a 30. I ended up getting a blood tranfusion (3 hours) and 2 bag of platelets because after one bag it only went from 17 to 18. For the first time, since I started treatment I lost my appetite and the first time I felt why we can not function without white blood cells. Without your white blood cells everything on/in your body will hurt. But, my nurses were so supportive and they kept reminding me that it will get better once my WBC raises. God literally stripped me down to my most vulnerable state to let me know that He was always there. He will never leave me or forsake me, regardless of how bad I felt just hold on and watch Him fulfill His promise.If I still trusted Him and believe Him it would get better. And I kept repeating to myself this is only temporary, it will get better, stay positive, God thank you in advance for healing. Elton came by drop something off to me and saw how bad I was, he told my one of the other nurses that I wasn’t doing good. My worst day was the end of my second week.
My second week started off great and ended with the worst day of my life. This is a reminder that life can really change in a blink of an eye. I realized that all the googling and researching I did, no one tells you that the chemo week was actually not that bad. But, it is after the stem cell transplant. I didn’t find any material at least warning me how I would feel after I got my transplant. My hopes are that I can help someone in the future. There is nothing that can prepare you for a stem cell transplant. Your WHITE BLOOD CELLS are sooooo important and I can’t say that enough. Without it, it puts your body in the most vulnerable state, the simplest things in life, standing, chewing, biting, eating, walking, showering, running, anything you could think of is compromised. I say that to say, regardless of how bad you feel, how you look, IT WILL GET BETTER!! And 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. God’s power is definitely made perfect for weakness, because His grace is sufficient when I feel so low. And guess what?? I made it through Week 2!!