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Battle Preparations

Brandon Schoenberger
Brandon Schoenberger
4 min read
Battle Preparations
View from the 6th Floor of Fred Hutch Cancer Center

While the blog has been quiet, we have been busy. Our visits to Fred Hutch Cancer Center (FHCC) (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's new name) has become a daily occurrence the last few weeks. Many tests have been performed and many specialists have been seen and we had our big "Data Review" meeting with the attending transplant doctor last Thursday. The great news is that we have been cleared to move forward with the blood marrow transplant (BMT).

Today in Germany a very generous twenty-seven year-old woman had her blood marrow stem cells collected to donate to Steph. The stem cells will be frozen in a preservative and flown to Fred Hutch in Seattle to be prepared for Steph's infusion scheduled for August 3rd.

Prior to transplant, Steph will begin her conditioning phase. This will include a phase 1 clinical trial that includes being infused with specially designed antibodies with attached radioisotopes that deliver targeted radiation to specific parts of the body. This will replace the standard high dose radiation that would typically be applied. This infusion of radioactive antibodies is scheduled for July 27th and will involve one overnight stay at UWMC for observation and isolation.

She will then receive a few treatments of high dose chemotherapy and a couple of treatments of low dose total body radiation in final preparation for the transplant on August 3rd. We are hopeful that a majority of the treatment can be done in an outpatient setting. Once admitted for the transplant she will be at UWMC for at least two to three weeks as we await the engraftment of her new stem cells.

Early in our war against leukemia our oncologist first described the blood marrow transplant process as "the most complicated thing we can do to the human body - medically speaking". I think that was a good introduction to the process. It is a very fascinating area of study and the researchers, doctors, and care staff are all very passionate in their pursuit of curative care. We are grateful for the amazing care team that we have at Fred Hutch.

Work Update

I realized last week that I may have taken on more that I should have in attempting to work and be the primary caregiver. It worked well during the predictable chemotherapy schedule, but has been a real challenge as I work to mentally process the transplant treatment plan. I went back on leave on the 19th which has allowed me to appropriately direct my full attention to Steph. For those of you reading this and covering at work, thank you. Monday night was probably the most stressful that I've personally had to date. It wasn't really anything specific, but just the full weight of everything hitting at once. A late night walk and some time in the Psalms helped me calm down and refocus. I especially know I'm not in this alone, by the fact that the next day I had a couple friends reach out to check in on me. I do appreciate those check-ins that may seem random, but are not. I am grateful for all of you that are following along and keeping us in your prayers and checking in on us through the battle. It means more than we can express.

Now that I am back to full time caregiver mode, I will work on refreshing the "Latest Updates" page in preparation for the conditioning week and transplant updates.

Life goes on

Some of the normal life stuff that has been going on (because that doesn't stop when you are battling cancer) is a roof replacement on the house and some repairs on the Town and Country (cracked oil filter housing and a broken parking brake).

Fred Meyer Roofing replaced our roof and did an amazing job. I first met Fred when I was assessing roofing contractors for some projects at Mars Hill. He has recently gone back to doing residential homes and I was happy to work with him again. His crew did an amazing job and made our house look ten times nicer and leak free! Let me know if you are in the need of a roofer and I can connect you with Fred. Now to paint the exterior...

The kids and my mom have been spending a lot more time at home as we have all been laying pretty low in preparation for transplant. They don't seem to mind the extra tablet time, but do miss the regular play dates and especially the Tukwila Chick-fil-a playground where they were becoming regulars.

Julie has been working on a fun project that we are hoping to wrap up this week and I look forward to her sharing it with you all here very soon! Until then, thank you for your continued support and prayers. We love you all!