Doctors always say that, don't they? I have to say, after 5 years as a cancer patient, and 3 before that with 2 slipped discs in my back, I've only felt actual PAIN one or two times. Discomfort, pinches, nausea, dizziness, sure. But true pain, only a couple of times. One of the least painful things I've gone through has been receiving peripheral bone marrow cells from an anonymous donor who is part of the National Marrow Donor Program. As the patient, I spent five days in the hospital receiving chemotherapy. On the sixth day, at about 9:00 PM Eastern Time, I received my new cells. There was no ticking IV monitor, no anaesthesia, no sick weak patient (me) lying on a bed the way you may have seen it on TV. I sat up in a recliner, the nurse hooked the bag of "blood product" to my chest portal that access the veins, and it slowly dripped into my system over 45 minutes. That's it! I went home 24 hours later!For the donor, it may have been a little more uncomfortable, but not painful. He or she is probably not used to all the prodding and needle poking that I consider every day events, so it would have been that level of discomfort. To extract the cells from the donor, he or she would have taken daily injections of Filgrastim, also called G-CSF or Neupogen, for about a week, which would stimulate stem cell production in the marrow and send the cells into the blood stream. The cells would be extracted via an intravenous line (IV) during a process called aspherisis that takes about a day of sitting in a recliner and watching TV! That's it! No surgery or "procedures"! No pushing into the bones with a big needle, like you may have heard of in the past! This has been the standard protocol for about 4 years, making it a much easier process for the donor than it had been in the past.The easiest part of registering to be a bone marrow donor is the initial test. It's a CHEEK SWAB! (No, not THAT kind of cheek!)It's the same way the TV police shows get DNA from a suspect. We can all handle that! All registering does is put your name and information into the system. Marrow donation is not based on blood type, they accept people age 18-60, and people with Type 2 diabetes are eligible candidates. World wide, the majority of people registered to donate bone marrow are of Caucasian descent; there is a great need for those of African, Asian, and Native American descent to register.Similar to a blood drive, bone marrow drives are often hosted by corporations and charities. I Googled "Boston area bone marrow drive" and got over 60,000 hits, of course. But, the first 11 were all drives coming up in the next 3 months! Before attending a bone marrow drive it is important to contact the people running it to see if you need to bring any paperwork or know certain information about yourself. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire that will help the donor recruiters determine if you are an eligible candidate to be a donor. Depending on how the drive is being organized, and the state in which you live, there may be a small fee for the initial screening process, which is covered by health insurance in most states. The fee is not for the Marrow Donor Program, it is for the lab that conducts the tests.
I encourage you to look into registering as a potential Bone Marrow Donor. You can even register online! If you were the patient, wouldn't you want someone to be there for you?
NOW for the GIVEAWAY question of the day... You MUST answer the question in the Comments for THIS POST to be eligible. You also must have a way for me to contact you when you win. You do not have to have a blog to enter, and you can be from anywhere in the world! You may have to read an earlier post to find out the answer!
Although I am cancer-free, I am actually sicker now than 2 years ago. What is the side-effect disease that has developed after the transplant?