Sorry for the long wait, the doctor had decided to wait until the consent signing to give the news. It was kind of a good thing because we had the "no news is good news" approach given that he said he would call prior in order to cancel yesterday's consent signing if the biopsy wasn't good. Anyway, it wasn't just good, it was as good as it gets!
Tom is 100% donor (for the first time ever we're pretty sure) and is 100% in REMISSION!!!! Now, you may be thinking, "Great news! Now he doesn't have to do a second transplant!" Which even the doc said would be normal to conclude; However, given that Tom has relapsed twice already, we already know that his remission on chemo alone will likely not stick. The goal of the chemo was to get him into remission as people who are not in full remission don't tend to do well in transplant. So, he is as ready as he could be for transplant and we are so very grateful! All of his scans and tests on his vital organs came back good too. :)
So what would you like to know? Well when they check for donors they "match" on 10 genetic markers. The last donor was a 9/10 and the mismatch was a marker that only mattered if another marker was mismatched. Tom clearly took well to the donor's cells as apart from the initial allergic reaction during the transplant, he never got graft vs. host... even when they tried purposely with two DLI's (mini stem cell transfusions without the use of immune suppressants to cause GVHD). So when you get graft vs host, the attack is non-discriminatory on the system... the donor cells just begin attacking everything to a level depending on the level of gvhd. While on one hand you don't want that because it can shut some important things down, a mild case of it can be good because as it's non-discriminatory, it means it also will have what they refer to as graft vs leukemia effect as well. So Tom never got that out of the last transplant. The new cells moved in peacefully and didn't fight him or his leukemia cells.
This time he has another 9/10 match but the mismatch is a different marker and the type of marker it is means there's more of a chance for gvhd this time than last time, but remember gvhd also means some graft vs leukemia. Because gvhd can equal some graft vs leukemia, it also lends itself to a high percentage of people (like in the 90% range) who get gvhd don't relapse. So if you can make it with some mild gvhd you sort of seal the healthy deal for yourself. Anyway, so the donor is a 40 year old female and doc says she's a "do-gooder" because unlike the first two people he contacted and weren't available until September, she apparently jumped at the chance, for which we are much appreciative.
Other related news, Tom is partaking in a couple of studies as well so that they can learn more about possible preventative meds and blood studies to study his and the donors blood to see what makes for a good transplant. One of them has some compensation which he is planning to put toward his Magic Weekend Fund (for you UK folks he's saving/planning to go back next year for Rugby League Magic Weekend). The other one they just take some blood before hand (they did that yesterday) and you never hear of it again.
We've got a full house! Oliver moved in about Mid May, David arrived Saturday, Helen arrived Sunday, and Grandma Elaine arrives Friday the 11th. Which brings me to his hospital dates (the moment everyone has been waiting for). Tom goes in early morning Thursday the 10th (Helen's birthday) and then transplants on the 16th (our wedding anniversary). So that must be good luck! Doc says he anticipates at least a 3 1/2 week stay. That sounds about right, last time Tom was in about 23 days total.
We also got a lovely surprise in the mail from Team East Coast last week! My Great Aunt Linda, referring more as an adjective than a familial title ;) , and Great Uncle Fred sent out the most beautifully hand made shawl that must have taken forever to make it's so beautiful. Tom is always going from hot to cold in the hospital and asking for warm blankets to wrap over his shoulders. Photos to come when he's putting it to some good use.
As of tonight at 5pm I will be on a three week leave from work so I'll do my best to be more frequent in updates (I keep saying this... but in my defense Tom wanted me to wait until we had results to post).
Happy Fourth of July to our American peeps and Happy Reminder We Won to those in the UK (haha)!!!!