Let’s be clear – cancer is very, very frightening. Not only the cancer itself, but the prospect of its various treatments and what comes along with them. None may be quite as frightening as considering or preparing for a bone marrow transplant. I can tell you from experience that much of the fear stems from the mystery of the process as much as the process itself. Knowledge is power, and I’d love to share with you my own experience with having a bone marrow transplant. If the tips here make you or a loved one’s experience more manageable I’d be overjoyed. I was lucky enough to have had some help from a friend who underwent bone marrow transplant surgery and without their advice things would have been much, much harder for me.
* Pick a Doctor and Institute You Feel at Ease With.
First things first. If you are at all able try to choose both a Doctor and a place for the surgery where you feel as comfortable as possible. The more mental calm you can muster for the surgery the better. I was really blessed to have a wonderful Doctor who always went the extra mile to pay attention to my mood and attitude. He believed, and I do too, that these things can be the big difference in how well the surgery goes and did his best to keep a smile on my face. You should feel comfortable with your Doctor as this major life experience is a tough one.
* Before the Transplant.
Before the transplant itself you will likely have pretty aggressive treatments preparing you for surgery. For me this was high dose chemotherapy. I was prepared for harsh side effects, but thankfully all I really experienced was insomnia broken with very strange dreams. This had me unnerved, but was manageable. A big help was having a good book and iPod with me as something to distract me from going over the coming bone marrow transplant surgery again and again in my mind. Believe me things like this can be worth their weight in gold.
* The Day of the Bone Marrow Transplant.
This is probably the most stressful day of all. I had picked up a few good books on relaxation that focused on deep breathing and put these methods to work to calm me before the surgery. It’s really remarkable how well these things work and all the information is on the web for free with a simple Google search. Not sure how well I would have handled this big day without having deep breathing to fall back on.
* Prepare to Be Exhausted.
Right after the surgery and for some time to come be prepared to be quite tired. This is what sticks in my mind when I look back on my bone marrow transplant experience . I also had great difficulty eating and ended up losing a great deal of weight. If I could go back in time I would have tried to pack on some extra pounds prior to surgery. This was one of the areas that concerned my Doctor the most about my post surgery health. I’m lucky to not have had any other bumps in the road like problems with my I.V. treatments or infections which can all be common in this time period. None of these are impossible to overcome should you run into them, so keep your chin up.
* Post Transplant Treatments.
Expect a great many shots from all the vaccinations and other things needed after your surgery. I felt like a living pin cushion. Just remember these are all for your continued health and absolutely necessary! I tried to keep joking about them, since everything seems more manageable when you smile, doesn’t it?
Be brave. I hope my bone marrow transplant experience can give you a head’s up on what to expect. My thoughts and prayers are with you.