BEAM Days - 6 to -1
Updated: Oct 31
BEAM is high-strength conditioning chemo. Conditioning in preparation for the re-introduction of the previously harvested and cryo-stored Baby Stem Cells or their actual name PBSCs.
It is designed to get the body ready for the reintroduction of these cells and is given (mostly) as an inpatient for the 6 days prior to Transplant hence the naming convention of D-6, D -5 through to Day 0, transplant day.
I am writing this on Day 0, but as that is (IMO) a momentous day, perhaps it deserves its own entry.
Thus far, it's really been mundane. I personally dislike the Hospital stay. The staff are beyond amazing, the facilities are actually pretty good, the food is properly shite, and the boredom is off the scale. I seem unable to concentrate on anything at the mo', and I've been like that for most of the treatment; ergo, actually using anything as a distraction doesn't help. I flit between social media, writing my blog, chatting to any fucker that dares even display a soupçon of acceptance to be engaged, TV-which has mostly been the Queen's funeral, eating (or not, we'll get to that), and trying to sleep - mostly futile.
Kerry has visited each day, sometimes twice, bringing goodies from outside., fresh clothes and huge dollops of comfort.
Eating is ‘ups and downs’. The other day I didn't eat for 24hrs, no problem in and of itself. But yesterday, I ate like someone who hasn't seen food for significantly more than 24hrs. Those damned Steroids. No Prednisolone this time but 3 days of Dexamethasone on D -1 to D +2. Odd that, even though Dex is stronger than Pred (I think) it has different side effects for me. I would rather take none but if I was given a choice, say in a hypothetical situation where they both had the same clinical value, but it was my choice, I'd pick Dex over that fucking Pred any day of the week and twice on a Friday. Worth noting, though, that my previous Pred doses were elephantine in proportion, probably to do with my elephantine proportions.
Since commencing Chemo, I've packed on ~13 kgs (29lbs), and I am the heaviest I've been. The advice given was that focussing on getting to remission is the absolute priority, and weight management is lower down that list. I may have taken that for a licence to eat/ drink sub-optimally for a while. C'est la vie; it'll give me something to add to my recovery regime in the next few weeks. I'll probably set myself an unachievable target by Christmas. I do like the notion of 'shoot for the stars, and you might just jump over the moon'; is that more corporate wanky bull shit or just good self-coaching? Who knows? 🧐
B (BiCNU or Carmustine), Etoposide, A (Cytarabine or Ara-C) and even Melphalan, thus far have been uneventful. I did ask for Kerry to bring in Sugar-Free Icey Poles, and they got a good seeing to when the Melphalan is being infused and for a few hours after. Melphalan is notorious for causing Mouth Ulcers (Mucositis), and the ice is a tactic to minimise this, along with impeccable dental hygiene and regular mouth washing with shitey-tasting bi-carb mouthwash and other mouthwashes too. I'm experienced to know, however, that the side effects may be delayed and are still to eventuate. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an 'easier' passage in the days to come.
On Day 0, I'm sitting waiting for pre-meds and infusion of my Baby Stem Cells. I feel quite emotional, actually. It's been a long, hard fucking slog. There's a saying that I hear a lot; 'I have Cancer, but it doesn't have me'. I like that one but.......I don't think I've managed to achieve that. In many ways, Cancer has me; it's gripped me, it's consumed me. I'm not sure, nor do I really apologise for why. If I were looking for positives, I'd say it's because, between Kerry, an amazingly caring work environment, other support from friends and a need to focus on my condition, one kind of must allow oneself to be, in my opinion, consumed. It takes focus, incredible mental fortitude, steely nerves, and a shitload of patience. This isn’t me blowing my trumpet. For those that know me, none of these characteristics is how people would describe me.
So, the purpose of the last paragraph......I am quite emotional. Emotions like amazement at the process, humility at the care I am having, astonishment at the science and a sense that today represents a major milestone. I'll be in proper recovery tomorrow. In hospital for another 14 days, give or take; and then extended recovery at home for the balance of the Calendar Year. I'll ease into working in late Oct and work from home, probably with very rare exceptions until the end of the year, and then perhaps a pattern of 1 to 2, sometimes 3 days per week in the office and the balance at home.
So that's about it. It's about 2hrs to go.
Oh, the idle mind creates much online shopping; beware of parcels turning up unexpectedly. A lovely wee surprise here and there 😂😂😂
Bring on the life-giving Stem Cells 🧫 🧫 🧫 !!!