Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Date is Set

After many months, the stars have aligned: my bone marrow donor is ready to donate and, having finished my course of radiation this week, my doctor feels the time is right for me to receive the transplant. After I temporarily wrap affairs up at work, get my apartment ready for subletting, pack for what will likely be a couple of months in Chicago, and do the 101 things left on my to-do list, I will travel from DC to Chicago this Wednesday, May 11. If things go as currently planned, I will check into the hospital on Saturday, May 14 (day -4) first thing in the morning. On Sunday, May 15, we will begin my three-day pre-transplant protocol of chemotherapy and anti-rejection medications. Meanwhile, my heroic, anonymous, 21 year-old male bone marrow donor in Israel will donate his cells in Israel, to be flown to Chicago on May 17. Then, on Wednesday, May 18 (day 0) I will receive the bone marrow transplant - a wonderful and already note-worthy date in my annual calendar as it is the birthdate of two of my very closest friends, Abby and Gideon.

I plan to post more details about the experience of packing up life in DC temporarily, more on the radiation experience these past few weeks, and about how I am feeling about the prospects for success with the transplant, but for now I want to ask two kindnesses of you.

1) If you are able, please consider donating blood or platlets in these next couple of weeks. During the transplant process and in the days, weeks, and even months after, it is likely that I will need blood transfusions and platelet infusions to help get me through the experience. Before I became sick, I was proud to be a regular blood donor (it was not purely altruistic: the Red Cross HQ in downtown DC, practically on my college campus, had really good complementary snacks for donors) but now, for obvious reasons, can no longer donate. This has been a particularly sad byproduct of having cancer for me - and it would make me feel great to know that the people in my life went and donated in the weeks that I'm in the hospital. If you do donate, and you are comfortable sharing that, let me know or post a comment here on SWHAW.

2) Come visit me. If I've learned one thing about my healing process, it's that I am sustained, bolstered and energized when I spend time with friends and family. Thankfully, Northwestern understands this as a medically significant phenomenon, and thus, visiting hours on the floor (15th floor of the Prentice Building at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago - I will post an update once I know my room number) are 24/7, though my preferred visiting hours are about 11 am to 8 pm. The only barrier to visiting is that it is dangerous for me to be around you if you have any hint of a cold or infection.
Feel free to call or email me in advance to check-in, and know that you are very much welcome anytime. If the next couple of weeks are particularly busy for you, no worries - I will need company when I am recuperating after I'm released from the hospital, too. Friends outside of Chicago: I will be very excited for your visits both when I am in, and once I'm out of, the hospital, so if you've never experienced the magic of Chicago in the summer, consider a visit!*

*(This blog post brought to you by the Chicago board of tourism)


womenwithcancer said...

Hi Elissa,
You'll be in my prayers. I wish for you a safe and successful BMT. Your friends at GUH are rooting for you. peace- Sara Moore

Maxine M said...


You probably don't remember me, but I first met the Fromans through the PTA at Romona School.

You are beautiful and amazing in your strength. By sharing your experiences with such eloquence, grace, and clarity you provide all of us with a gift of untold value. We learn at your feet.

Our thoughts join the prayers of so many others who wish you utmost success during these coming weeks. -- Maxine

ro said...

Good luck with the transplant, I hope it goes extremely well.

You've put it so eloquently, I might one day quote you on visiting hours policies. The hospitals I work at in the UK have a 3 1/2 hour per day (3-5pm, 7-8.30pm) visiting hour policy, which is rubbish. You're right, it is a medically significant phenomenon to be sustained by the people who love you. I hope that happens for you in the coming weeks.

Bette said...

Elissa, you continue to be in my prayers. I read your blog for two reasons: inspiration and to keep tabs on your progress. I hope to see you when I'm in Chicago with Caren in early July. Love,Bette

Elizabeth said...

Hey Elissa! Sending lots of prayers UU-style your way. Also giving blood next week, a regular thing with me. Since I'm almost literally the only person I know who is eligible, I feel I owe the world a couple pints ever 56 days.