Transplant Information

Hello Everyone!

What a day. Let me first start off by telling you that I have a ton of information to share regarding my upcoming transplants. This is no small thing and I encourage you to ask me questions and post them in your comments. Be sure to include your email address so I can respond. Here we go. Today I met one of my three transplant doctors at Medical College of Virginia (MCV) who will decide what kind of transplant I will be having (autologous or allogenic). There has been great debate from multiple transplant oncologists as to which treatment would be more successful. An allogenic transplant means that I would be receiving bone marrow from an unrelated donor (because I am an only child). The mortality rate for this procedure is high for most patients, but in my case it is even more so coming from an unrelated donor. The positive effect of having donor bone marrow is that this new immune system recognizes the cancer cells as being bad cells and kills them. Unfortunately, it does not recognize certain vital organs as good organs either and can attack those. Rejection of this new immune system is a risk and so is Graft Versus Host disease (GVH).

The best transplant center in the United States that has the most up to date cancer transplant treatments is called the Hutchinson Center located in Seattle. Their most recent research shows that a person with my type of Cancer (refractory or progressive Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) may not truly benefit from an allogenic transplant. So the question is this: do I undergo an allogenic transplant with a great mortality risk and not so great results or do I undergo an autologous transplant (using my own stem cells) and risk a relapse?

This has been an ongoing question without a clear answer until today. According to my new group of doctors, I will be undergoing a tandem or double autologous transplant. I have to do this transplant procedure twice. Are you kidding me? Why in the world would I do this twice? Well, the answer is simple: to save my life. I guess when you put it that way there is no room to argue or compromise.

MCV is participating in a clinical trial to see if patients with my type of Cancer have a greater rate of success from a double auto transplant versus a single one. Recent data has shown this to be true, but more research needs to be done and that is where I will be participating in that research. The good news is that an autologous transplant has a very low mortality rate, but the bad news is the my insurance company may not cover both procedures. This is not the normal standard of care and my insurance company may deem it experimental (which means not covered). MCV will be contacting my insurance to do everything they can to make this happen. It’s really exciting to be part of some Cancer research that may benefit millions of people in the future. A interesting way of “giving back.”

What will happen in the next week is that I will have one more round of ICE chemo. Once my blood counts are back up, I will begin harvesting my stem cells. The high dose chemo won’t begin until mid November, but that may change. I do plan on posting my transplant experience along with a timeline as it unfolds. I know that this is a lot of information to digest and if anyone is interested in more detailed info, please let me know. I am completely exhausted and physically fatigued from today’s events, but once I understand everything that is going to happen, then I will be ready to rock!

17 Responses to “Transplant Information”

  1. 1 Allie September 19, 2008 at 9:01 am

    You keep us so well informed. Of course you are going to ride the wave of an experimental medical miracle. We will be right there with you. I love you with all my heart.

  2. 2 Megan September 19, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Thank you so much for sending me the information regarding this site. What a wonderful, loving group of friends you have! As I’ve told you before, I’m so sadden that you have to go through any of this; and anything you need from me-all you have to do is ask. You have been so supportive to me after Todd’s death and for that I am so grateful. So, let me return the gesture. Keep that beautiful chin of yours up and keep fighting. You are always in my thoughts and prayers!

  3. 3 Candis S. September 19, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I’m hearing “Rocky” (like the boxer) music in my head. You definitely have that fighter spirit, girlfriend. It’s a quality in you that I have great admiration for. You say that anyone would do the same if they were in your position but you are sooo wrong on this one. People ARE put in your position everyday and often give up before the battle has even begun. Not you! You have grown in so many ways since this all started and you have helped others around you grow as well, me included. I love you for that and so much more. You are a BBB but you are also a B.A.B. Bad A$$…well you know the rest 🙂 And you got the hair cut to prove it!

  4. 4 Courtney Carpenter September 19, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Hey sweetie! I got your text and wasn’t close to a computer and was so anxious to get the updates. Wow!!! So where does this mean the procedures will take place? Is it in Seattle?
    I love you!!!

  5. 5 Kendra Canterbury Stephens September 19, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Thinking of you every day and praying for you too!
    If anyone can beat it you can – you are one tough cookie, as I recall

    ❤ Kendra

  6. 6 Katie.S September 19, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Spleen…you just used a lot of big words dude!!!:) I am so happy to hear the results. I feel like we have been needing some good news lately:) You amaze me with how well you are striving on through everything you are going through. I am lucky to have you as a friend! I am only a call away if you need a stupid joke or someone to do a weird noise to make you laugh:)XOKT

  7. 7 Prena Younis September 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Geraldine,

    My name is Deprena Younis and I worked with you briefly during your time at Pilot. I’m actually your Solbright account manager. I still work with Malcom. Although we only talked a few times, Malcom did mention you would be taking time off and why. I genuinely felt for all you may be going through and a little sad. Then Malcom sent me a video you guys did in the office. I thought, wow, what a beautiful and strong woman. I know we have never met in person and I could never know personally all that you must deal with. Please know that despite the fact we haven’t met in person, you are in my prayers and an inspiration. May God bless and keep you and your family. I will look forward to having lunch/dinner with you once you’re all better!

    prena younis

  8. 8 Nicole September 21, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Mon petit Coeur, j’avoue être fort maladroite dansce genre de situation. Aussi vais-je emprunter a Mere Therese de belles paroles qui traduisent ce que je veux te dire:
    “La vie est une chance, saisis la
    La vie est beaute, admire la
    La vie est un rêve, fais en une realite
    La vie est un defi, fais lui face
    La vie est precieuse, prends en soin
    la vie est un mystere, perce le
    La vie est une promesse, remplis la
    La vie est tristesse, surmonte la
    La vie est combat, accepte le
    La vie est une aventure, ose la
    La vie est la, defends la!

    Petit coeur, nous vivons ensemble ta lutte avec l’amitie et l’amour
    que nous te portons, mon voeu le plus cher est qu’ils suscitent en toi force et courage.

  9. 9 kim September 21, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    If I told you how proud I am of you, every minute of every day, it still wouldn’t be often enough. You once told me that you didn’t know how I could be so strong in tough times, and all I can say is ‘right back at you sister’, ony like a thousand times over. You amaze and bring inspiration to so many. You are beautiful and I love you. Keep up with the posts sugar and I’ll see you soon.

  10. 10 Rachel September 21, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I was forwarded your website and am praying for success on your upcoming transplant. I completed my autologous transplant at Sloan Kettering last April and have been in remission 15 months. I had relapsed Hodgkins and also chose to participate in a clinical trial. Feel free to read thru my blog for info. You may also want to check out She is a young mother with refracotry Hodgkins and had success with her stem cell transplant. SHe has had some ongoing health issues, but has been cancer free for two years. Contact me if you ever want more info.

  11. 11 nathalie September 23, 2008 at 5:22 am

    Hello Géraldine, c’est Nathalie. J’espère que tu guéris doucement mais sûrement. Je pense très fort à toi, reste forte pour ta famille qui même loin de toi ne cesse de t’aimer, tes parents et ta petite fille… Même malade, tu es toujours aussi BELLE. C’était juste pour te faire un petit coucou et pour que tu saches que je ne t’oublie pas! je t’aime très fort. Ta cousine Nathalie. Kiss

  12. 12 Rory September 23, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Hey BBB,

    I love being able to keep up with your progress! Thank you for taking the time to keep us all up to date on your journey to being cancer free. I’m passing on your blog to family and friends because you really are an amazing woman with a truly heroic story. By the way… you really look beautiful without hair.

    Keep fighting.

  13. 13 Megan September 24, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Thanks so much for keeping me up to date with your treatment/progress. I think of you so often and keep you in my prayers daily. I can’t tell you how much I admire your strength and your courage. I wish I had half the fight in me that you have. I will always be grateful to you for your love and concern after Todd died; when you were going through so much at the time. Thank you also for the book- that was so thoughtful of you. Know that I’m here for whatever you need. Keep that beautiful chin of yours up.
    Much love

  14. 14 Trudy September 24, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Hey Geraldine,
    I’m thinking about you all the time! I want you to know that I’m pullin for you! Stay brave, strong and beautiful! 🙂

  15. 15 Katina September 24, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Hey Boo!
    Love and miss you. I am coming to see ya in about an hour. You betta have my dinner ready too! lol! Remind me to tell you the Ben and Jerry’s story. A hot mess!


  16. 16 Risa September 24, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Hi Sweets!

    Thank you so much for keeping everyone so well informed. I love keeping up to date with you!
    You continue to amaze me…
    I love you!!

  17. 17 Jean-Luc & Chantal September 28, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Nos pensées sont quotidiennes ainsi que notre amour. Tes parents, ta fille ainsi que toute ta famille sommes présents dans ta lutte, gagne la maladie avec le soutien de tous. On t’aime très fort. Bises énormes

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