The day a transplant patient receives their new stem cells from their donor is referred to as Day Zero. The days leading up to it are listed in a T-minus manner, meaning in a way that indicates a specific amount of time remains before the main event. And the days after in the same way, but with a +…for example, the day before the transplant is Day -1. The day after is Day +1.
On Day -5, George started his two day regiment of chemotherapy – cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). This is a immunosuppressive and chemotherapy drug used to treat leukemia and lymphoma. It works by slowing or stopping cell growth and decreasing your immune system’s response to various diseases.
Before the nurse could start the chemo, George was hooked up to a huge bag of saline fluids for 4 hours. He had to take in 1,000 ml of fluid and urinate 400 ml before he could start the chemo infusion. That’s because Cytoxan is so toxic, it can cause bleeding in the lining of the bladder. So, the need to be sure things are moving quickly through there before they started the caustic chemo. At the same time they started the chemo, they started an IV bag of medicine called Mesna to protect his bladder. He is also given an anti-nausea pill as a prophylactic.
Day -4 was more of the same. Fluids, then chemo. So far, he hasn’t experienced any side effects, thank God. We have been told next week will be rougher, so we are preparing for that.
Day -4 was also the 4th of July. It seemed fitting that since George went into the hospital and was diagnosed with leukemia over the New Year’s holiday weekend, that he’d be starting his treatment over the 4th of July weekend. But, as in January NOT how we wanted to spend the holiday!