5/6/2021: The question is rhetorical. No. Parallel lines converge in the infinity universe. Yes. Change is a fickle beast. Maybe. Well, let’s try to go were no woman has gone before. Argh. My introduction is as interesting as screaming and arguing with the boulder in front yard seeking to extract the meaning life from its grains. Well, life is what is in the balance.
Karen’s transplant twin, Laura, is sitting on the cusp today of her second bone marrow transplant (BMT). She is of faith, so add her to your prayers – she would like that. The science and doctors give a solid 40% of surviving this treatment plan. In the past, I likened this to being suspended at edge of cliff, while you ponder the odds and next step, let’s breathe a little lighter, smile, and bring you Karen’s introduction.
“Laura and I first met in the Marrow Forums group online about a year after her bone marrow transplant when I was preparing for my own. There were differing medical opinions about the safety of having pets post BMT. I asked the group for their experiences and their doctors’ advice on the matter. Laura responded wholeheartedly that she didn’t know how she’d have recovered if kept apart from her beloved cat, Simon. We forged an immediate bond. That’s Simon pictured with Laura and me at our joyful first in-person meeting for her 5th rebirthday in 2014. In the ensuing years post transplant, we marveled at the many parallels in our medical experiences – she at Mayo, me at Hopkins – and dubbed ourselves transplant twins. Once again we find ourselves on similar paths. A couple of years ago, her blood counts started dropping mysteriously. Mayo was unconcerned; relapse 10 years after transplant is unthinkable. Eventually, she turned to a new doctor at University of Minnesota who took her worries seriously as her condition steadily worsened. And today, she is reborn with a second transplant from a new donor nearly 12 years after her first.” ~Karen
“…Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start..”
Laura’s road ahead will not be easy. A lot has been learned in the past twelve years, and a lot has changed; yet a lot is still chance. Run two of the BMT is similar, but not the same. The life saving genetics of the first transplant is just one aspect which complicates the prognosis and path ahead. Whole body radiation, ATG, Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), and Fludarabine chemotherapy are aimed at destroying the cancer, actually the entire immune system. The medical team found her a young 21-year-old female donor – a change in protocol from last time – aimed not only to engraft healthy new marrow, but also garner the vitality of younger cells and fight, due to genetic divergence the possibility of future relapse. But let’s focus on now.
“…Call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
Before I come undone
Save me from the nothing I’ve become
Bring me to life…”
Laura’s daughters, other family, and friends will be there to support and cheer her on in the future. Life – so much to live for. Best wishes Laura! Happy Rebirthday. Simon and the girls know you will be home soon.
So, it’s a hard road, but it is one that leads to a future. Please send your positive energy, prayers, and/or lucky charms and catnip!
Note: What did you accomplish by age 37? Well, I was reborn twice and made lunch for the kids.
p.s. Follow Laura’s progress at her CaringBridge site by tapping on her name under Blogs by Others.