Re: aml-chemo or stem cell transplant?
Nanci - Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience with chemo induced acute myeloid leukemia. I was diagnosed with stage IV Inflammatory breast cancer nearly 8 years ago. I did a year of various treatments including dose dense Adriomycin, Cytoxin and Taxol. After surgery and radiation and four years of Tamoxifen, I was in remission. Four years later, I got a cough...hence, a diagnosis of metastatic BC to the lungs and liver. I then did Carboplaten and Taxatere three weeks on and one week off, Herceptin weekly and (anti-hormonal) femora daily. This treatment continued until my blood counts bottomed out. I got a 7 1/2 hour nose bleed and ended up being admitted for blood and platelet transfusions. After a bone marrow biopsy, it was confirmed that I had AML. I was 42 at the time and very worn out from all the breast cancer treatments. I also have 2 teenagers and am a single mom - every reason to live and fight. I started Induction chemo and spent 3 weeks in the transplant ward before I got to go home. A search was started for an donor, and I got a month off to recoup. Then came consolidation therapy and 3 more weeks in the transplant ward. I was VERY lucky a 10/10 match was found. I had a month off to recoup and get things ready. I had to go to a different hospital 8 hours away for the transplant because my local hospital does not do unrelated transplants yet (you have to earn the right). A week before the transplant, I saw the transplant team's dentist and they pulled 3 teeth out of me. They look for any chance of infection and just pull...ugh!! They also replaced my catheter with a nice new fresh one and pulled my port-a-cath (from the BC) to lessen any chances of infection. Five days of chemo and then I was ready for the transplant. The chemo was tough on my digestive system, but all in all it wasn't that bad. The transplant itself was very anti-climatic - just another blood transfusion. The hardest part of the whole thing was the isolation and keeping busy. My hospital got me out of bed to exercise the very next day. I spent a total of 8 weeks away from home and then my care was transferred back to my local hospital. I continued to get IV medications at my cancer center for several weeks. I lost over 60 lb because eating became difficult. I did pretty well until 8 months later when I got severe chronic graft verses host disease of the liver. I turned green with yellow glowing eyes - very scary. Back to the hospital...I received a horse serum treatment that was given every other day for 6 treatments (last 3 were doubled). My bilirubin (liver function) was at 12 when they sent me home (normal is less than 1). It took some time, but my numbers started to slowly come down. My blood type then switched over to my donors (I was B+ and my donor is A+). I am now A+ and my DNA switched over several months ago. I am now leukemia free, breast cancer free and enjoying a wonderful life!! I am still on anti-rejection meds along with many other meds, but I took my first Jazzercise class today, I walk 2 miles several times a week and am only seeing my doctor one time a week for lab work. It was very hard, but very worth it.