The stem cell harvest finished on Friday afternoon just before Isita’s party. Marta and I had steadily fortified and prepared ourselves for the likelihood that we would not gather enough, and the harvest would have to be repeated after a further dose of chemotherapy. We consciously readied our minds not to get to the top of the stairs and once again to tread into empty space.
As we were settling back down in Isita’s room on the ward after the party, the specialist nurse Aylish poked her head round the door to tell us that in total they had gathered about 3.5m cells. This was less than ideal but much more than expected.
This means we don’t have to repeat the harvest. Isita needs no more injections. (You can imagine how happy that news made her.) Most importantly of all, we have overcome the hurdle that has prevented the treatment from going forward for nearly two months.
While this is a wonderful achievement, we must still be cautious in our hopes. The results of the bone marrow aspirates and trephines they did two days ago, and the MIBG radioactive dye test planned for next week, must show that no metastases have reappeared. Only then can we go on with high dose chemotherapy.
All being well we will start on Monday 10 July. In the meantime we are anxiously watching for signs that the cancer has started to spread again. If so, we can deal with it. For now, we are celebrating Isita’s indomitable bravery in getting through the past week so well.