Friday, November 8, 2013

A Bountiful Harvest!

November 8, 2013

We've now been here at Rochester Mayo for 10 days.  The tests have been completed and all is looking very good.  I've had the Neupogen Shots, dealt with "good bone pain" and have done the harvesting of stem cells from my bone marrow.  Goal was to collect 6 million stem cells.  Enough for 2 stem cell transplants. 

The counts after 3 days of harvesting were:
- Wed., Nov. 6: 3.95 million stem cells
- Thurs., Nov. 7: 1.56 million stem cells
- Friday, Nov. 8: 1.19 million stem cells

What millions of stem cells look like!
All done with harvesting!  I can't say enough about how wonderful everyone here is at Mayo Clinic.  It must be a pre-requisite for anyone here to be really nice.  Everyone from the doctors, the nurses, nutritionists, receptionists, have been absolutely wonderful. 

It hasn't been without any hiccups though.  On Tuesday evening, my catheter, which is installed into my chest in order to facilitate the stem cell harvesting, started leaking.  It was fixed (suture done by the Interventional Radiology Surgeon) on Wed morning but then started leaking again on Thursday afternoon.  Fixed again last night but leaked again this morning.  To be honest, Wed-Thursday was exhausting as having to go back & forth to the hospital to get the catheter leak fixed wasn't very fun.  Ria and I agreed that there's two ways to approach it.  We could feel down about the whole thing (because we were so tired) or just laugh about it because the leaking was out of our control and we were still achieving our goal (6M+ stem cells). Well, we're laughing and keeping positive about this.  It's so much easier to smile and laugh than the other way around. The other night, the nurses had a sand bag and ice placed on the catheter to stop the leaking.  I joked that it was like hugging a cold teddy bear while sleeping. 

Dr. Gertz had the catheter taken out this afternoon.  The transplant team is having me stay at the hospital overnight just to make sure that there is no more leaking.  Everything looks fine for now so praying that there are no further issues. 

The kids, my parents and mom-in-law are coming to visit this weekend.  We're excited to see them.  Lastly, the news today is filled with images of Typhoon Haiyuan (or Yolanda in the Philippines), which looks to be the strongest typhoon ever recorded.  What we're going through can't compare to the disaster being faced by the people in the Visayas region of the Philippines. Our prayers go out to them. 

Next week, we have meetings on Monday and then the massive chemo dose next Tuesday.  The transplant is scheduled for next Thursday, Nov. 14.  Wow, here we go.  7 months since we arrived in the USA, and the day of transplant is almost here.  Thank you all for your support, prayers and best wishes.  We would not have made it this far without you!!



  1. Game on, our very brave and strong Buddy and Ria! Armor yourselves with our love and support. God is always good and He is most definitely with you!
    Love, Leah and Vinchy

  2. Glad to know you have enough harvest for your transplant. We will continue to pray for your specially on Nov 14 - your Inocentes prayer warriors :-)

  3. God is with you, Buddy and Ria. Your strength comes from the LORD and HE will carry you through. Will offer Mass for a successful transplant next week. God bless Buddy and every one in the family. Jojo R

  4. Praying over you, Armando, every night, for your complete healing, for strength of spirit for you and Ria and your entire family! You will be especially in our thoughts and prayers for the success of your procedure on Thursday. God bless always! Ria Esteban-Holmbraker (with Bernie and Aidan)