My first appointment with Dr. Tsai was a lengthy one. First came the person doing vitals, then a nurse practitioner, then Dr. Tsai, then the stem cell transplant coordinator. Somewhere during this time, another person came by and drew several tubes of blood. It was a long, 3-hour appointment.
Dr. Tsai did go over the disease with us (my wife Cyndi and I) in detail and we talked about clinical drug trials. There weren’t any drug trials that would benefit me. I could wait for future trials or consider a bone marrow transplant. The decision was easy. Transplant.
Making this decision even easier was when Dr. Tsai said that I have about a year to live if the disease progresses at the same rate, give or take. I knew I was going downhill and was prepared for bad news. Cyndi, on the other hand, wasn’t quite ready to hear these words even though she probably had those same thoughts. She’s tough but was on the verge of tearing up. You could hear how upset she was in her voice. She even commented on “us” not making it to next Christmas. I really felt bad for her, but couldn’t do much to help.
We discussed the options. Options. That’s funny. There are only two options. Die in about a year, maybe prolonging death with numerous blood transfusions, or get a bone marrow stem cell transplant. Dr. Tsai put me into a medium risk category for the transplant, about a 45-50% survival rate. Of course, not having the transplant means a 0% survival rate. I’ll go for the 50%. I’m 64 and I figured I was good to at least 74 before all this started. Getting a transplant is the only way to go. The odd thing: I am not even categorized as a high-risk MDS patient, just an intermediate risk one.
Next on the agenda was for Dr. Tsai to do another bone marrow biopsy.