a match

Today, we finally met Caemon’s bone marrow doctor. He stopped by to meet Caemon and to bring us a bit of news. We have a donor, one with whom he is very pleased, and she is being “activated” (this means she is being called to her local center for testing and screening to determine her continued eligibility and availability). He told me she is a twenty-three-year-old woman, no kids, and he has high hopes that she is going to be an exceptional donor for Caemon. You may remember when I spoke about having twelve total markers on which a donor can be a match. This woman is an 11 out of 12, and for Caemon, this is perfect because in his case, we don’t want a 12 of 12, for the risk of recurrence is too great then. They have found our donor.

Imagining an actual human being, a young woman who, if she is willing and able to go through this, is going to save our son’s life is humbling and beautiful. I learned her blood type. She is B-. Caemon is O+, but after transplant, his blood type will change to B-. It just so happens that B- is Jodi’s blood type. He will have the same kind of blood as his Mama. That, for some reason, resonates beautifully with me.

On top of having a person, we also have a date. December 3rd, we will be admitted to the bone marrow transplant (BMT) unit. The doctor predicts the transplant will happen on 12/12/12. Knowing all of this will happen in a month has me both terrified and hopeful. The doctors are all so pleased with Caemon’s response to his chemo that they seem to have a good deal of confidence about going forward. At the same time, this is not without a fair share of risk. It’s not without a difficult road of conditioning chemo, which will essentially destroy all of Caemon’s bone marrow and blood cells to make him receptive to the new marrow. He will be incredibly vulnerable to infection for quite some time, and that comes along with plenty of worry. However, we know the strength of this team. They are one of the best in the country, and that is no small matter.

We can take comfort, too, in the fact that we will have the same nurses there as we have had here. It’s lovely to know we will be well cared for as a family, that Caemon will have familiar faces keeping him smiling during those long weeks of isolation.

During his visit, the doctor asked Caemon when his birthdate was. When he learned this, he shared with us that Caemon’s is just a few days after his own. He told Caemon we would all need to have a big party for his fourth, gave me a broad grin, and made his way out. Yes, a big party will certainly be in order.

Even though we have had this glimpse into our very near future, we’re also living very much in the present with Caemon’s current round of chemo. It won’t be quite as long–eight days instead of ten–but he is reacting more quickly to it. He has had a couple of fevers, is developing his rash in response to Ara-C (cytarabine), and his counts are dropping quickly. Today, he needed a blood transfusion, and soon he will be neutropenic again. We are told his counts will take a bit longer to recover this time because his bone marrow is tired, but they are hoping to send us home again before we’re admitted for bone marrow. I just can’t believe that we’re really this close. Then again, I can’t believe it’s November either.

17 thoughts on “a match

  1. What spectacular news on a nerve-wracking day. Thanks for giving me a huge smile to wear as I go out to vote today. Also, I wanted to let you know that a friend of mine was one of the very early recipients of a bone marrow transplant for leukemia in the 80s and she made a full recovery. Amazing stuff, modern medicine.

  2. Oh my gosh! I teared up reading this post, such wonderful news! I hope Caemon tolerates this round ok and that you get a break before the big day. Sounds like a great Christmas for your family! I also love that he will have his Mama’s bloodtype, that is fate right there!

  3. So happy to hear your good news.You all have been so strong and positive during this ordeal. Know you are loved and everyone is pulling for this transplant to happen and make you all even stronger. Love to you all

  4. I’m so happy to hear the good news for you guys. Here’s to hoping this round of chemo goes smoothly for Caemon and that the transplant goes even smoother. This just might be the best Christmas ever! Hang in there family.

  5. What a beautiful and wonderful gift this young lady is giving you all!! We now keep all 4 of you in our prayers. This is such great news. It has made my day. What a fantastic Christmas gift Caemon and you are receiving!! Thank God for all the advances made in medicine–that this beautiful young boy will live. The videos were so touching. You have an amazing son…..but you already know that!

  6. Reading this at work with happy tears running down my face. I’m sure everyone thinks I’ve lost it…but what’s new. Sending love all around…and extra to that young woman who is willing to help a very sweet, strong little boy. I hope she is still willing and able.

  7. so amazing! cannot imagine what this is like for all of you. your boy is incredible and he has moms who are getting him through (in addition to what sounds like a great medical team). looking forward to great news to continue…

  8. Great news! Hoping that all goes perfectly and Caemon will recover quickly. You are all amazing…sending all the best wishes your way!

  9. Brings tears to our eyes. So many prayers for your magical boy! (And we LOVE the nurse Caemon videos, too! Such a remarkable young man.)

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