The whiteboard in Phoebe's room in the bone marrow transplant unit reads "Welcome Back!". We are back and today is day -9. In the world of transplants, we count down to day zero, or transplant day, and then we count up. After her first transplant, Phoebe relapsed on day +76. Today none of that matters. Today we have an opportunity to start fresh. Today is day -9.
Phoebe is sleeping peacefully as I write this. She was admitted last night, and was not very happy to be back. She has had a few sad moments today and the effects of her first day of chemo seem to already be causing her some nausea, but she is slowly adjusting to hospital life. She has been smiling and playing with her nurse and showing off her latest trick of making animal sounds - her favourites being to moo like a cow and growl like a lion and we have heard a lot of those sounds today.
Over the next 9 days, Phoebe will receive at least one type of chemo daily. She will have her blood pressure and temperature measured every four hours, and she will be closely monitored. She will not be able to leave the bone marrow transplant unit and her visits with Mae will be through the glass of the fish bowl. The chemotherapy will cause her white count to drop back down or close to zero, giving her nothing to fight off infections, and making space in her bone marrow for her new cells. On day zero and day +1 (Dec. 1st and 2nd), Phoebe will receive infusions of my stem cells. And then we will wait for her new cells to engraft. We know from Phoebe's first transplant that it is the waiting that is the hardest. Waiting and hoping that these new cells, this new life will take root in Phoebe's body and start to grow healthy cancer-free cells is quite possibly one of the hardest things I have ever done ... and now we are about to do it again.