Eight Out Of Eight

17 Mar

A lot has happened in the last few days. I’ll catch you up.

First, we went to Mayo on Tuesday to get my fancy bloodwork and meet with Julia, the pediatric BMT nurse practitioner, who filled us in.

The Road to a Match

Julia and the National Bone Marrow Registry Team are in hot pursuit of finding me a perfect match! In our meeting, Julia brought up on the screen exactly how they measure my match. There are 10(ish) genetic points they measure. The first eight are pretty straightforward, while the last two are a bit finicky.

I created a little sample below of what the results look like. These aren’t our real genetic codes (like I’d give that to you), but it’s interesting to see how things shape up. You can see how Jack and I pull a number from each of our parents. I like to call it our own little Maury DNA test to prove the redhead milkman theory false. While it was proven that we’re definitely related, we’re of little bone marrow help to each other.

Jenna Mom Dad Jack
13, 26 2, 13 26,4 4, 2
15, 11 14, 15 11, 5 11, 14
3, 17 9, 18 17, 3 3, 9
8, 6 27, 6 8, 21 27, 8

But then she showed us a new column – the column of a potential donor who has already gone in for his (or her) bloodwork.  As Julia ticked down the list, the donor’s numbers echoed mine exactly.

“Thirteen, twenty-six, thirteen, twenty-six. Fifteen, eleven, fifteen, eleven.”

So far we’re an 8 of 8 perfect match! They should have the results of the final two measures by the end of this week.

Three other potential close matches are receiving bloodwork soon – one tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday. We expect to have their initial eight scores by the end of next week and the final results by the week of March 28. Two of the donors are from the U.S. and two are international, which could make me a cultural hybrid delight. It’s already apparent that I have the best potential donors ever because they’re moving so quickly to get bloodwork done. THANK YOU, wherever you are!

As for the rest of the process, we received a library of materials from Julia. It was very difficult for my mom and I to read about the extensive BMT process. I’ll write more about next steps in a future post.

Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to this.

Pediatric BMT

It’s been decided that I’ll be treated in pediatrics, not only because I can dominate a good game of Candyland, but because all the doctors know me very well. “We all talked about it, and we would really like to treat you here, if you’ll have us,” said Dr. Arndt. I can’t say no to that.

While the adult BMT doctors may be more appropriate in some ways (I guess I am a grown-up officially), these doctors are very familiar with my case, are coordinating with adult BMT, and are putting me up in what is really the penthouse of the hospital – pediatrics. I know this from my extensive stays there as a senior in high school. There are actually butterflies painted into the walls. Plus, I’ll always be at least somewhat of an Easy Bake Oven-baking, Pretty, Pretty Princess-playing pediatric patient because my original cancer (osteosarcoma) is a pediatric cancer.

Field Trip to the ER

The reason I didn’t write earlier was that yesterday was a bit dramatic. I got sick in the middle of the day and ended up in the ER after a bad reaction to all the antibiotics I’ve been on. My blood counts are also plummeting (8.3 hemoglobin and 25,000 platelets), so they’re watching closely for when I need a transfusion. At this point I’m just ready to have them keep the IV in my arm.

I’m home, on some different medications and am doing better. We suspect I’ll need a transfusion or two in the next few days, which really wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t for the needle pokes.

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11 Responses to “Eight Out Of Eight”

  1. Connie March 17, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for the update! I’m so happy to hear that it sounds like you’ll have a match soon, and sorry to hear you weren’t feeling well yesterday. I hope you are able to have a little crazy St. Patrick’s Day and wish I could zap some frosted sugar cookies to you! Take care!

  2. Ann T. March 17, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Yikes! Take care and I will probably see you sometime this weekend. I refuse to play Candyland however. I have standards.

  3. Glaweh March 17, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

    I’m hoping for the best and sending lots and lots of well wishes from this side of the pond. Hope you are feeling better and that a match is in the near future. Take good care of yourself, chica. xx


  4. ERIKA HANSON BROWN March 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Dearest Ms. “Red”:

    Happy St. Paddy’s Day to you! And here’s to hooray’s to you for your awe-inspiring spirit!!

    I’m so glad that you are writing this delightful, wonderful blog – so filled with the spirit that is JENNA!!!

    much, mucho LOVE!!!

  5. Amy March 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    Heya Cousin,
    I stopped in at my former employer and guess what I heard. One of my former co-workers registered as a bone marrow donor last year and was contacted very recently about possibly being someone’s match. Now, I know it’s probably not you, but how cool is that?!
    Take care,

  6. Cate March 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Glad you had a okay night.

    Thinking I may want to do a visit to the wine bar downtown Friday or Saturday night…if you and/or your mom are up to it we could share a table. People will talk if I go by myself…


  7. Jen McFadden March 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Hi, Jenna. You may not remember me, as we never got a chance to work closely together, but I work for Weber Shandwick Minneapolis. I learned today of what you’re going through, and just wanted you to know you have a lot of people thinking of you and sending you healthy vibes, myself included. I’m a cancer survivor as well. Sounds like you’re surrounded by great people and great doctors, and I know how important that is. Take good care of yourself!

  8. Sally Squires March 17, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    If I’d read this posting earlier, Jenna, I might have gone for all the eighth rated teams in March Madness. Hope those antibiotics don’t play any more nasty tricks. I’m still humming Matchmaker, hoping that these good possible donors work out. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  9. Clare March 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Jenna by the numbers was very interesting to read! Thanks for sharing with us. I know they will find the best match for you. Being in peds has its benefits–I am sure they will take extra special care of you (not to mention that you might be visited by a hospital clown or two–always a favorite of Ben’s:)). You know we are all rooting for you!!


  10. Sara Martin March 18, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    Well, thanks to your brilliant blog post, I have an excellent mental image of you, sitting on Maury’s couch, and he’s saying, “Jenna, you ARE the father…” Wait. No. That makes absolutely.no.sense. (I’m up past my bedtime, and I swear I was not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.) In reality, I’m willing the universe to say (or shout), “Jenna, you HAVE the match!”

    Hoping you are steering clear from further dramatic events this week.

    Much love to you!

  11. Tiffany W March 18, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Glad you are doing better. I am thrilled to hear you are on your way to finding that perfect match!
    Oh and if you ever want to be challenged to game of Candyland or Shoots and Ladders you are on!

    Thinking of you!

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