So Frank got to see the kids the other day for the first time in a month. My parents brought them down to visit and have dinner with us. That was totally good for Frank's soul. As it turns out, Frank was having a good day that day, and everyone had a good time. :)
Frank's numbers continue to climb, which is what we want, but, (HERE COMES THE NOT SO GOOD...)he is beginning to have some signs of Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD), which, in my research of GVHD for Dummies, (because how else would I understand all of this scientific stuff??) is this: "The donor's (Random German Guy's) stem cells also contain T-cells. When transplanted into the patient (Frank), the donor's (Random German Guy's) T-cells may look at the HLA markers (you're gonna have to look this on up on your own...apparently these exist in the blood...) on the patient's (Frank's) cells, identify the cells as "non-self" and unleash an attack on the patient's (Frank's) tissues and organs. Because the patient's (Frank's) own immune system is suppressed prior to the transplant, it cannot launch a counterattack. This condition is called graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The "graft" is the donated stem cells (from Random German Guy) and the "host" is the patient (Frank)".
So, while this seems bad, it's actually also kind of good, because it sort of proves that the new cells will also be attacking the bad cancer cells. Or, I should say, it's KIND OF good to experience it a LITTLE BIT. The problem though is that can vary from what they call "acute", which happens for a couple of months post transplant until the cells kind of level out, to "chronic", which is, well, chronic. It can also range from mild to severe. Currently we'll go with "mild to moderate". This can affect any organ...typically the skin, gut, and liver. For now, Frank's gut is affected. Consider it a really bad stomach virus on top of morning sickness nausea. Yeah. And when you're already feeling like you got hit by a truck, well, this is not a good feeling to have. The plus side of this is that they can treat it. Currently with some oral meds, (which to be blunt, even the doctor told us one is "nasty") and then if they don't work, then with high dose steroids. Which is another whole issue. But, whatever gets us through this. In the meantime, they have to rule out an infection, so more tests to check for that. All "par for the course", which is golf-speak for pretty normal and expected but still annoying and not comfortable. So, that is where we are at right now. Just started the oral meds last night, plus he got a bag of fluids, so hopefully he will start feeling better later today.
As for his demeanor, well, he feels sick and tired of feeling sick and tired...but, (HERE'S MORE OF THE GOOD!...)he is still positive and fighting and knows he will win. Because really, what other choice is there? :)
Continued thanks for the donations that keep coming in, (!!!) and for all the prayers, positive words, good thoughts, etc, etc, etc! We are so very, very grateful. And for those who HAVE asked me, yes, he'd love a card! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for our address, so I don't have to post it publicly here. ;) Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU!!!
Kelly, Frank, and the kids