Former 108 Mile Ranch resident Mike Jones is scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant tomorrow (Feb. 13) to fight a very aggressive cancer – Hepatosplenic t-cell Lymphoma – that was diagnosed in Nanaimo in August 16, 2013.
Fortunately, his sister, Sheri Hatton, who lives at the 108 Mile Ranch, is a good bone marrow match for him.
Sheri says she was the first person tested because she was just what the doctor ordered – a full-blooded sibling, which means there is a 25 per cent chance there will be a match, and as it turned out, she is a perfect match.
She notes Mike’s best time for a transplant is within a week of finishing a chemo treatment because his blood count numbers are high enough to have the transplant.
“If too much time lapses after a chemo treatment, his blood count levels go down…. All his organs have to be functioning over a certain percentage before they can go ahead with the transplant.”
She adds they were scheduled for a transplant in January, but it was cancelled because too much time went by.
As a donor, Sheri also has to pay attention to her health. Since October, she has undergone repeated blood work – between 13 and 15 viles of blood and sometimes on a weekly basis in the beginning. More recently it has been only a matter of monitoring.
Sheri has to make sure she doesn’t contract a virus and she cannot be around people with colds, because if there’s a virus in her blood, it would halt a scheduled transplant. Then she and Mike would have start the cycle all over again.
Sheri notes she had to get her first flu shot, which is mandatory, and ended up having a significant reaction.
Sheri went to Vancouver on Feb. 6 to prepare for the bone marrow transplant. Starting on Feb. 9, she went through four days of G-CSF injections that caused the marrow to grow in her bones and overflow into her blood stream.
“This is so they can extract the bone marrow from my blood instead of the old way through your bones.”
The doctors will be taking the bone marrow from her on Feb. 11 and 12 in a six- to eight-hour process each day.
“On Feb. 13, they will take some bone marrow from me to top up the supply they got from me before. Then they give it to Mike that day.
“I also signed up to let them take a bit more for scientific study.”
There can be numerous side-effects from the injections, including full-body aches and nausea. Sheri has to be immobile during the extraction process because the needle that takes the blood from her body is so large that if she moves it could shred her vein.
She is more than willing to go through the process because the bone marrow transplant can technically save Mike’s life.
“It can put anything off from happening again for decades to never again. Chemo can put the cancer into remission but it can come back, and while a bone marrow transplant can’t cure [the cancer], it can fix it so it doesn’t come back again.