It's been quite a while since I last posted an entry into the blog. So many things have been happening over the last 2 weeks, many of which are significant ones.
Firstly, the good news. Alhamdulillah, after a challenging (challenging is probably an understatement) last 6 months, by the will of Allah, I have officially obtained my medical degree from the University of Sheffield.
Now, the not so good news.
The CT scan I had on the 16th July 2009 further reinforced the results of my recent PET Scan. The disease is back. Hodgkin's lymphoma, which was found to be completely eradicated halfway down the treatment back in April, has relapsed.
Whilst waiting for my treating consultant at the 02 Day Ward waiting room this morning, I had already half-expected what was to come. I know managing a relapsing Hodgkin's Lymphoma will not be as straight-forward as the initial ABVD-chemotherapy. I was just not sure how intensive will the treatment be.
At the end of the consultation, it just dawned on me what an immense test I am likely to go through in the next 6 months.
Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. It basically means high dose anti-cancer treatment followed by a transfusion of my own stem-cells.
What I will have is very high-doses of chemotherapy, one that will completely kill all the remaining cancer cells in my body, but unfortunately the one that will also lead to IRREVERSIBLE bone marrow damage. This is because the marrow is highly sensitive to chemo/radiotherapy.
The transfusion of stem cells after high dose chemotherapy should supposedly allow my marrow to recover. They will move from my blood back to my bone marrow, where they start making more bone marrow and stem cells. Gradually, hopefully my bone marrow will recover and my blood count will return to a safe level.
For that purpose, I will also have my stem cells harvested sometime in the future. Here's a good explanation about how stem cells are harvested from the body.
In general, what will happen over the next few months are:
i. 2 courses of Chemotherapy over the next 2 months (to further reduce the number of cancer cells before stem cells are suitable to be harvested).
ii.. Stem cell harvesting
iii. High dose chemotherapy (I can't imagine how will I feel once my bone marrow is literally 'gone' when they give the high-dose chemotherapy)
* Bone marrow is where you make all your blood cells (red blood cell to carry oxygen, white blood cells to fight against infection, platelets that clots the blood to prevent further blood loss in case you have a wound). So imagine if your bone marrow is damaged!
iv. Stem cells transplanted
v. Hopefully clear remission from disease
Below is a nice diagram of the stages involved in an autologous stem cell transplant.
I have just had another neck biopsy taken this morning, and they have also arranged for a bone marrow biopsy to be done (not again!) as soon as possible. It does feel like going through the whole cycle again.
It's natural for a human being to be left feeling so frustrated having been so strong in facing such a big adversity, and coming out of it standing tall and proud, only to be knocked down again by an even bigger test almost immediately.
But as a Muslim, it is imperative that I believe in Allah's plannings. It might be that Allah is not giving me the ray of sunshine just yet, rather pouring me with heavy rains, only so that He can give me the beauty of the rainbow by the end of it. Insya Allah! =)
"Bila Allah uji kita dengan sakit, tandanya Dia sayangkan kita..Dia mahu kita jumpa Dia suci dari segala dosa dan hina kita di dunia..."
This is indeed, not a primrose path.