High Dose Chemotherapy
You will start the high dose chemotherapy or radiation the first day. It may be given over a few days or over a week. The choice of chemotherapy treatment depends on the type of cancer and its stage. Your doctor will tell you the best drug and doses for your disease. You will learn how the drugs work and how you will get them. There are side effects that may start a few days after getting the chemotherapy, however you will be given drugs to prevent nausea and stomach upset.
After High-Dose Therapy
The high-dose chemotherapy can cause different side effects as it kills cancer cells and normal cells. Most of these side effects will happen within one to two weeks after chemotherapy. Other side effects may not happen until weeks or months later. Your body will repair the damage from the chemotherapy, but it will take time. You and your Care Partner will be taught ways to treat and reduce these side effects. It is important to be as active as you can and even exercise while you are in the hospital.
Stem Cell Transplant / Infusion
A few days after the high-dose therapy is done, your own stem cells or the frozen cells from a donor will be given to you. The frozen stem cells are thawed and then brought to your room. Your nurse will give them to you in your central line over about 20 minutes. The cells will go to work and help you make new blood cells. This will take about 10-12 days. During this time, you may need to get bags of blood and platelets.
Anywhere from ten days to three weeks after your transplant, there will be signs that your stem cells are growing (engrafting) and beginning to produce blood cells. As this starts, you may notice pain in your bones, especially your pelvis, lower back, and thighs. As your blood counts begins to rise, your white blood cells will start to fight and help stop infections. Your doctor or nurse will let you know when you may stop taking antibiotics and when you can begin your normal activities again.
Discharge / Going Home
You are ready to go home from the hospital when:
- your white blood counts have returned to normal
- you are able to eat enough calories each day
- you are drinking enough fluid
- you have someone to help you care for yourself at home
- you can take all of your medicines by mouth