Saturday, March 31, 2012

A New Immune System for Mel

Sorry to keep you all hanging. It has been a busy weekend!! Melanie made it through her two days of radiation and her transplant. YAY! Here are some pictures of her radiation adventures.

There was a lot of waiting involved!

Getting her new central line.

This is how Melanie had to stand for 20 min. while getting the radiation. Fun!

Ringing the bell to signal that she is done with her radiation! She was super happy that it was not as bad as last time, and that they were able to give her the meds she needed.

The stem cells have arrived. It's hard to believe that they came from so far away. In a year, we can find out just how far that was.

This time they looked like strawberry puree. It looks more red in the picture. There are 6.4 million cells in this bag. Melanie had to be pre-medicated for a few things before they gave her the cells. First, her and the donor were not RH compatible, so she had to have a medicine for that. Last time she had a few little problems (nausea and redness), so they gave her some Adavan and Benedryl for that. She was drugged!

I picked Kim up from the airport and we made it just in time for the transplant. It was a small group this time. Just Melanie, Mom, Kim, and I. That was good, because the room she was in was super small. We left the balloons and birthday supplies for another day.

Tony was the nurse helping her. He has worked with her a lot over the years. He is so funny and kind. We love Tony!

We were all giving a little chant as the cells made their way into Melanie's body. Her third birthday is March 30th at 3:27 pm. Melanie was nervous for this procedure. As the cells started going in, she started acting a little freaked out like last time. She kept saying that she felt weird and didn't like the way she was feeling. Tony explained that it does have a warm feeling as the cells go in. It joked that it was Melanie's body warmly welcoming the new cells. It probably didn't help that she had all those drugs in her and just had radiation. She was a bit nauseous as well.

It took 45 min. to empty the bag. We are so grateful once again for the wonderful man that donated these cells. We are keeping our fingers crossed that these little guys do the job. After the cells were all drained, she started to relax a bit. I think the drugs finally kicked in and she was able to sleep. We had to stay for about an hour and have her vitals checked every 20 min. Tony gave the OK, and Melanie was cleared to leave the hospital with a brand spanking new immune system.

If only we could get her to wake up now. She was drugged!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Better Day

Today was a little better for Melanie.  As she put it, "I didn't puke."  She sounded pretty tired when I spoke with her.  She said it was a long day full of waiting.  She has her new central line in and it is feeling pretty good.  Sore, but not painful. 

Tomorrow is a day that Melanie has not been looking forward to.  Ever since she has known about the second transplant, she has dreaded radiation.  It made her so sick last time!  She is going to arrive early to get plenty of anti nausea medicine in her system.  She said she is just trying not to think about it.

Good luck, Melanie!  We will all be praying for you!

Clot Troubles

They removed the source of Mel's blood clot. It looks so sore. She had one put in on the left side, so now she'll have symmetrical scars. The doctors are still being cautious about the clot and have restricted Mel on lifting. We are really grateful that the clot was discovered.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Hard Day

Over these few years, we have seen that their are ups and downs, highs and lows.  Today was a low day for Melanie.  I spoke with her this evening and she was very emotional.  It all started this morning with that darn nausea returning.  She also started with another rash.  Both items are most likely side effects of the chemo.  She was just not feeling very good today.  Another complaint Melanie has had for about a week now, is a pain in her neck.  It was very bothersome to her.  She mentioned it a few times to different people.  She was particularly worried going into radiation.  She has to stand in the perfect position during radiation.  She was worried, because she could not stand and hold her head just so, without major pain.  She was also starting to have pain when she swallowed.  She mentioned to me, with great emotion, that she has been praying so hard that they could figure out what this pain is.

Well, today, the right people had a listening ear.  They discovered, via ultrasound, that she has a blood clot near her central line.  Thank goodness they figured this out!  So, Melanie had to have her central line removed today.  She was worried that doing so would release the clot, but they had several opinions and explained that all would be well, and the central line had to come out.

When I spoke with Melanie, she said it is already feeling so much better.  They wanted to just put a picc line in, but since she has such a hard time with tape and her sensitive skin, they are going to be putting in a new central line.  This line will obviously be on the other side of her body.  Not a fun process to have to go through again.  She has to have a line in, in order to get her chemo, meds, and the transplant.  Now she will get to give herself two shots daily in her abdomen for about 6 months.  I am terrible remembering the names of all the drugs, but it is the one that helps with blood clots (Levo -something or other).  She also had to stay upright until this evening (no naps or laying down).

Melanie is so grateful for an answer to a sincere prayer.  They gave her some Benedryl for the rash, and some medicine for the nausea.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

Thank you for all of your prayers.  Melanie is still in great need of them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Back in Salt Lake

We had our family meeting on Thursday.  We learned that Melanie's donor is a 31 year old male.  He has lived in Europe for 5 years or longer (Maybe his whole life?).  Melanie and my mom headed back to Salt Lake today.  Melanie starts her three days of the chemo fludarabine today.  On Thursday, she will have full body radiation.  Melanie is mostly worried about the radiation.  It made her so sick last time!  They talked about all the precautions they are taking this time around.  Hopefully they can prevent any of her previous side effects.  On Friday, she will have another dose of full body radiation, and her transplant.  I put the wrong date on an earlier post!  All of this will be done outpatient. 

Family Meeting

We had Kim and Mike on speaker phone.

Mom and Dad


We will get one with Kim on Friday!

Austin sat so quietly in the corner playing a game during the whole meeting!

Dr. Hoda told Melanie to plan on staying in Salt Lake through the month of April.  She will have to have labs drawn every Monday and Wednesday, and a clinic visit every Friday.  Melanie said, "We will see if I am here the entire month."  Dr. Hoda's response was, "You may be here for two."  We all got a laugh!

Melanie, Dr. Hoda, and Ladee

Melanie remains optimistic that she will be able to do all of this outpatient, and not have to be admitted.  She has great faith that everything is going to go well.  Regardless, she knows whatever happens is Heavenly Father's plan.

So, for now, mom and Melanie will be staying with Greg and Charise and making their daily trips to the hospital.  Friday will be the big transplant day (birthday number 3)!  Kim is flying in on Friday to stay for a week.  We will have another great birthday party! 

Go, Fight, Win, Mel!!

Monday, March 19, 2012


I thought I would get on here and give a little update.  Melanie has completed her first 7 days of spot radiation.  She has been doing well.  My mom told me today that she thinks it is starting to catch up with her a little bit.  She has been more tired.  Melanie has been very impressed with the radiology department in Logan, as well as McKay-Dee in Ogden.  She will have treatment every morning this week, and then she will be done with this phase.

Thursday, we will be having a family meeting at LDS with Dr. Hoda.  This will be to go over expectations for her transplant.  Melanie and my mom will head back down to Salt Lake on Monday the 26th for Melanie's pre-transplant protocol.  This will consist of 3 days of chemo, two days of full body radiation, and then her transplant on March 31st.  All of this will be done outpatient.  This means they will get to stay with Greg and not have to be in the hospital.  If all goes well, she will not have to go back into the hospital at all.  We are praying for things to go smoothly.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  Melanie has accomplished so much, but there is still a battle ahead.  She has such great faith and determination.  I will post more on Thursday, after our family meeting.

Love to you all!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

First Day of Radiation

Today, Melanie had her first dose of spot radiation in Logan.  I wish I had pictures to add.  My mom said everything went well.  She will see more side effects as the treatments continue.  However, the tech mentioned that this should be a breeze compared to her full body radiation she had last time.  Hopefully that is true.  She will have another treatment tomorrow, then every day for the next two weeks (Monday-Friday). 

Melanie is also heading down to Salt Lake to have her central line flushed out, and to watch Kaden's first baseball game of the season.  It is so nice that she can be home right now! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Sorry for the slack on the blog.  After Melanie and my mom took Kim to the airport on Friday, they headed to the hospital to have Mel's labs drawn.  If her counts were good enough, she was going to be able to go home.  Her counts were great, and she didn't need any transfusions.  Melanie and my mom headed home!!

So, Melanie will be home for a couple of weeks.  During that time, she will be having her spot radiation done in Logan and a few things done in Ogden.  She will have to head back down to Salt Lake in a few weeks to start her pre-transplant regimen.

She is feeling great.  Gets tired easily, but is just happy to be home and being a mom.  We will probably not be doing a daily update right now.  After Mel starts radiation, we will let everyone know how that is going.  We will also keep everyone up on when she heads back to Salt Lake and when her transplant will be (probably last week in March).

Thank you again for all the prayers. Melanie made it through a tough part of treatment, but there is still more to come.  Enjoy home life again, Melanie!