Today marks another small turning point - I am now officially off the juice. This morning I finished the last of three months of a prescription for steroids. For the past few weeks I have been counting down the days and the pills, looking forward to being through this part of the journey. The good news about high doses of steroids is that they reduce the multiple myeloma in preparation for the upcoming stem cell transplant. The bad news is that the side effects of the steroids are multiple, bothersome and grow over time. Throughout the past three months I have had regular breaks from the steroids. Each break becomes more difficult as my body "comes down" from the super-charged energy that it has been ingesting. I expect that the next week will have its share of fatigue and ache as I go off of the steroids for one last time.
In the meantime, we are back from a wonderful and relaxing family vacation with sunny weather, surrounded by our children and grandchildren. I am now into a series of medical tests and appointments in preparation for the procedures that are scheduled next week and the week following. Next Wednesday my stem cells will be collected. In two weeks from today chemotherapy will be used to shut down my bone marrow so that on the next day my stored stem cells can be used to start me up again. While I can't say that I'm looking forward to the side effects that will come as a result of the chemotherapy I can say that I will be glad to be on the other side of that event. Then it will be a case of slowly but surely getting stronger and healthier again.
Many thanks to all who have sent messages of concern and care, along with word of continuing prayer. It means much to me. Thanks to those in Crescent Beach and in Vancouver who have joined the ranks of a volunteer driver's network to help me get to and from Vancouver General Hospital as needed after the stem cell transplant. What a wonderful support network I have. Thanks, too, to those who have committed support to Caroline Penhale's half-marathon in support of blood cancer research. I see that she is now over 80% of the way to her goal, leaving her needing pledges of $605. Your gift in any amount is a big encouragement to us both.