Half-way There: My Journey to Stem Cell Donation

We are now one month away from my donor collection date, which is planned for May 7th. I’ve gone through all the information, the bazillion consent forms, and the medical tests and I feel ready.

A secondary benefit that is coming out of this process is that I am finding out how healthy I am. I think because I have Asthma and allergies, take two medications daily, and see the Chiropractor a few times a year, I felt unhealthy. My husband often teases me that I am falling apart (when I complain of some ailment or ache). But the truth is, I’m pretty healthy. My blood tests came back good. I’m disease-free. My sugar levels are all fine. (Thank God that Milk-Dud addiction didn’t cause Diabetes.) I’m not pregnant (no duh). My chest X-rays were clear. And my EKG is perfectly normal. So if nothing else, I’ve gotten multiple medical tests and a clean bill of health on someone else’s dime. The doctor that did my physical cleared me, and a doctor from UCSF, where the procedure takes place, called me to see if I had any questions. Although my NMDP coordinator didn’t say I had the official ‘all clear’, the doctor said I was cleared. Whoohoo! I would feel so bad if I was this girl’s one shot and wasn’t healthy enough to help.

Although they have not given me any specific diet to follow or do’s or don’t’s, I find myself trying to make healthier choices. I want my blood to be the best blood it can be for her, and for my body to recoup quickly. So I have been trying to get more iron in my diet, eating more red meat, kidney beans, greens, cream of wheat, and making sure I take my daily multi-vitamin. And even though I am not getting marrow removed from bone, my wacky brain has me drinking more milk and taking in more calcium – strong bones, strong bodies – Milk does a body good!
I was already trying to lose weight before this started, then kind of gave up for a bit when I went on my bacon cheeseburger bender; but now I am trying again and trying harder. Walking two miles on my lunch break, yoga, dieting, drinking more water, less soda, and avoiding alcohol all together. I’ve lost three pounds in a week and would like to lose another five before the procedure.

I am also totally over any nerves I had about the process. The NMDP put me in touch with a lady who donated a year ago so I could ask questions about her experience. She experienced headaches every day of the shots, but they went away one day after. And the machine broke down during her PBSC Collection, but it didn’t hurt or bother her in any way. She had a positive outlook on the whole thing and wished me luck. Facebook and Twitter have also been a huge help. I’ve been able to connect with a man on Twitter who was going through the process right now and he was kind enough to give me daily updates on how it was going and the symptoms he was experiencing. He didn’t have much pain at all until day 4 & 5. And when I announced what I was doing to my friends on Facebook, I got a record setting 50 likes and 22 comments – all wonderful, encouraging, praising comments. It made me feel so good. I’ve also had a number of friends express interest in possibly signing up on the registry themselves. So I am very happy to be sharing my story if it can possibly inspire someone else to volunteer, and they end up being a match to someone some day, and that saves another life. Then I’m making a difference in multiple lives. The thought makes me giddy and gives me warm-fuzzies.

So now I just wait, hope that I don’t catch a cold between now and then, and pray that everything goes well with the patient. I wonder if that family is sitting around wondering what I (the donor) is like as I am wondering what they are like? I am sure they are very worried about the process and the risks for their daughter, and if it will be successful. I sure hope it is. Once she starts her chemo that will kill off her immune system in prep for receiving my stem cells, it will be so dangerous. There would be an extremely high risk of death if I was to change my mind at the last minute after that process had started (or get too sick to do it). So I am praying to stay healthy, stay safe, and don’t let them down. I want God to send them peace of mind that I won’t change my mind. I’m in it to win it and I’m taking my vitamins.

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