Sunday, August 5, 2007

Another milestone

I did not know Susan Butcher, the four-time Iditerod champion, but I read of her death, a year ago today, following a donor stem cell transplant. That affected me a good deal, thinking that if someone that strong couldn't make it, then how can I think I will? But she had a different cancer, and was affected by graft vs host disease. The main reality, though, was that one could survive from March until August, and still not make it through a donor stem cell transplant.

Susan's transplant was exactly a year before mine, minus a day, so that means I've now survived longer than she did. That's a good thing, but celebrating doesn't seem right. Again I drift to the same question I posed months ago, why her, and not me? I am naturally glad to get past this particular date.

Yesterday I was reacquainted with a term, sub-clinical, that may apply to the minor symptoms I'm having that the doctor refuses to call graft vs host disease. It seems to mean that they won't treat the symptoms. The spots on my face and neck aren't too bad, but I don't like them, especially the one where my glasses tend to rest. But if that's what it takes in order to kill the cancer, I'll take it. Fortuately, that's about as bad as it's been for me, so I won't complain too much.

Some of the recent highlights: a great afternoon with friends in White Rock B.C. during their festival, all 3 of us getting to use the NEXUS (express) lane through the border crossing with Canada, a movie, and visits with friends and family.

3 comments:

Sled Dog Action Coalition said...
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Anonymous said...

Gary,
I currently work in a Bone Marrow transplant unit. A small detection of GVH is actually a good sign. I kind of means your donor cells are having a reaction and are actually working.
Good luck!

Gary Burlingame said...

Thanks for writing, and for all that you do at the transplant unit.

Yes, my local oncologist and I discuss this all the time, that a little GVH is good. At the same time, though, I can't spend too much time worrying if I don't get much GVH, since there's not much I can do about it.

Luck is about it, since we don't really have all the information we need to solve this.

Thanks again,
Gary