My family is perfectly imperfect and not a day goes by without humour, tears or tantrums. Blogging is the modern version of keeping a diary so feel free to read along while I share the good the bad and the ugly aspects of being me!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

A Parents Choice For The Future

I've been meaning to blog for a few days now but as per usual life gets in the way and I wanted to be sure that I wanted to share some choices that others may view as controversial.
In the end I decided that over the last year I have expressed my every thought in these posts so why start being discrete now.
Just over a week ago I took Nick back to the oncology clinic and they gave him the once over. His blood tests were similar to when he was receiving treatment but apparently that is "to be expected".
They said that they didn't feel any new enlarged nodes but since Nick has residual lymph nodes it can be hard to tell. Also, many of his nodes were in his organs which can be tricky to feel from the outside.
In the end they suspect that Nick's symptoms are from extreme acid reflux and put him on a strong medication but Nick, myself and our home-care nurse are doubtful that this is the case because during treatment Nick did have bad reflux and heartburn and is not feeling that this is similar.
Last Tuesday Nick had his CT scan, pulmonary function and echo, we will find out the results at the end of the month.
While at oncology I had the chance to talk with the doctor about what would happen if it were to be a relapse or what the treatment would look like if there were to be a relapse in the future.
Nick would need something called "salvage chemo" (much more potent chemotherapy then he received before), this would make him very sick and he would be neutropenic often. Because of this they would need to do a stem cell transfusion. If the cancer isn't in his blood then they would harvest his own bone marrow before treatment and then give it back to him once treatment was completed, if the cancer is in the blood then he would need the stem cells from an outside source.
The most ideal donor would be a full blood sibling but since Nick doesn't have that he would need to find a match elsewhere, but there may be another option.....
In 2007 The Center For International Blood And Marrow Transplant Research compared the use of matched bone marrow (currently considered the gold standard) with matched and mismatched umbilical cord blood.
The study showed that cord blood took longer to rebuild the cells in the patients body but it also provided less graft vs host disease (especially mismatched cord blood).
I have given it a lot of thought and Dom and I came to a decision and yesterday we started a new round of IVF.
I debated while pregnant with Maxwell about banking his cord blood but decided that it was "too much work" and "cost too much money" - I am certainly kicking myself in the ass now.
My fertility specialist is wonderful and has been an important person in my life. During Nick's battle he checked in with me, stopped by the hospital, prayed for us often and guided us with Nick's sperm banking.
He and I had a long talk about ethics and although there is a method to genetically check my embryos and select only the closest match to Nick, I decided against it. Given that this sibling is not full blood related the likelihood of a total match is close to zero and since studies seem to show that mismatched marrow/stem cells are better anyway then it seemed irrelevant.
I know that everyone wont agree with my choices and I have heard many reasons why... my hands are full with the kids that I have, it isn't fair to have a child simply to save another blah blah blah but the fact is that my boys grow and improve in their development everyday and this baby wouldn't be born only to save another, in fact I hope that their cord blood sits in a lab never needing to be touched.
I suppose its true that I am a planner even when I don't really need the plan but this really seems like the best choice for everyone involved..... Nick's physical well being (as well as my other children, God forbid) and also my peace of mind. Choosing to do fertility treatments again was always in the plan at some point but Nick's diagnosis and the new knowledge of (hopefully not needed) relapse treatments has certainly changed my thoughts about the timing and my eggs aren't getting any younger so its now or never.


  1. Funny, given that we chatted about you doing another IVF before, I never would have made the jump that a new baby would be to save another. In fact, I was quick to think sweet, you could take advantage of a situation you were already heading towards regardless.

    People also have to realize that there are NO GUARANTEES with IVF. So it can never be a "plan" to have one to save another. You have ALWAYS said that you wanted a big family - a really big family.

    So for those of us who know you and love you and your family. We know that this new little angel has been in the wings waiting to be called, LOOOOONG before his/her, big brother ever got sick. The fact that they could bring with them some security and healing along the way - even better.

    Best of luck. I look forward to hearing about your success and wonderful pregnancy.

  2. Danielle you are right, given my track record of failures the odds are stacked against me but I cant not try.
    Its a lot of money, pain, time and devotion but knowing what I know now those all seem worth it.
    We did always want a big family and my family jokes that I should sell my house and move into a shoe..... they think they are comedians lol

  3. Odds have never stood in my way, so why should they now. Continue to follow your heart, it hasn't led you astray yet.

    You may want to look into that shoe though if this works.

  4. I meant to say, odds have never stood in YOUR way.... mine neither, but I was talking about you :)