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.