I am officially a one-year-old today. It’s been one year since I received a stem cell transplant to fight leukemia. Stem cell transplant recipients often celebrate the day they receive their new DNA as their new birthday. Mary Pat says it’s appropriate that I celebrate this day as my first birthday because I am beginning to act like a one-year-old. She says I’m fussy, cranky, take frequent naps, and I stare at boobs. (I don’t think that last trait has anything to do with my transplant.)
I have a lot of people to thank for this milestone. First, I thank Mary Pat, my beautiful Caregiver/Guardian/Spouse/Partner/Friend. Without her I would not have had so much to fight for. I want to thank Dr. Hagop Kantarjian and Dr. Richard Champlin, along with the nurses, staff, and researchers at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. They are true miracle workers. I want to thank my brother Mark LaGarde for donating the stem cells that have given me this extra year of life. Thanks also to the many thousands of cancer victims in the past who chose to participate in clinical trials that have added to our base of knowledge about how to fight cancer. Last, but not least, I want to thank my many friends and family members who have been so supportive in this past year.
I just finished month 11 of a 12-month course of post-transplant chemotherapy. Yesterday was a big day. I had yet another bone marrow aspiration/biopsy. The final results will come in about a week. If there is no sign of measurable residual disease (“MRD”), it means that I continue to be in complete remission. If there is a sign of mutations in the stem cells, it means my new immune system has not been able to eliminate all traces of the cancer and I will be considered a “relapsed” patient. Relapse is not a good thing when it comes to leukemia. I will be keeping my fingers and toes crossed until the final test results come in.