Bone Marrow Transplant – What the Media and Medical Profession Do Not Want You To Know!

After I was diagnosed in January of 1989 the medical profession tried their best to use me as a guinea pig. I believe they do this because they know you are in shock and very vulnerable. At age 29 and three small children, I was definitely in shock. The doctor who diagnosed me said I would be dead in 3 to 3 and one-half years. The fear was overwhelming and I know now that I was incapable of making a rational decision. I decided to put off a BMT and keep my options open.

Finally, at age 35 I decided to have the BMT. My family members were tested and luckily I had two siblings that were both perfect matches. A BMT is not a surgical procedure but a medical procedure that is non-invasive but very intense. I along with nine others I began the procedure on the same day as they did. We received three days of what they call lethal chemotherapy and then four days of total body irradiation. The only way to describe what they do to you is they kill you and then they do their best to try and not just revive you but to keep you alive for as many years afterwards as possible.

Call me the lucky one, but the other nine BMT recipients began to die almost immediately and by the end of the first year there were only three of us left. And during the next six months the other two succumbed to the BMT. Once you have a BMT the leukemia never is the cause of death. The number one cause of death after a BMT is graft vs host. Graft vs host is where your new bone marrow sees all these foreign organs and objects in your body and tries to eliminate them. Remember you have the donor’s bone marrow in you and the bone marrow sees your body as completely foreign. The doctors try hard to help the bone marrow to adjust but it is normally a losing cause. I am not absolutely sure but my guess is that all of the other nine people lost their life to the battle that went on inside of them because of graft vs host.

After having the BMT I was tested several times to see whether I had graft vs host but I never did. I did happen to have and get almost every other ailment and malady possible but I have survived and am currently doing okay. Life has been very different from what I was expecting. At 53 years old I am still unable to work a full-time job. The chemotherapy and radiation does things to the body that the doctors are still looking for answers to.

To give you a brief idea as to what I have gone through– I have had pneumonia 15 to 20 times and each time was a hospital visit of on average 2 weeks. I contracted the shingles more than 10 years ago and still suffer from that on occasion. I have had cataract surgery on both eyes. A month or two after the BMT my weight dropped down to 114 pounds–and at 6′ 2″ I had very little meat on my body. Besides having no hair anywhere, I was a rack of bones rapped in skin and I could barely walk. At my home I had to crawl up the stairs to the bedroom because I could not stand to be on my feet that long. I had double hernia surgery and several other painful maladies that still seem to linger.

I still have trouble with my weight so the doctors have given me a medication to increase my appetite so that I can gain weight. It took me approximately 2 years to finally get up to 150 pounds but today I have gain much more weight due to the medication and am at nearly 200 pounds. This is about the perfect weight for my body.

To this day my main problems are severe fatigue and terrible digestive track problems. But, at least I am alive and have seen all four of my children grow and become adults. I currently have 3 grandsons and 2 grand-babies in the oven. Life is not necessarily great but I do know that it could be a lot worse.

People Who Died of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer typically caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos becomes trapped in the mesothelium, which is the lining of such vital internal organs as the lung, stomach, and heart. It can become cancerous over time, when it is known as mesothelioma. Numerous celebrities and other notable people have died from this disease.

Steve McQueen, a famous American actor principally from the 1960s and 1970s was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in December 1979. The peritoneum is the lining of the stomach. His mesothelioma was at such an advanced stage that U.S. doctors declined to offer McQueen surgery or chemotherapy due to the risk involved. As a result, Mr. McQueen sought treatment in Mexico.

Despite the risks involved in the procedure, McQueen underwent surgery in Juarez, Mexico to remove a large tumor in his abdomen. McQueen died of a heart attack the day following the surgery on November 7, 1980. McQueen attributed his asbestos exposure to the removing of asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a ship while in the Marines.

In 2006, film and television actor Paul Gleason died of pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs. Gleason played a supporting role in several blockbuster movies from the 1980s including Trading Places, The Breakfast Club, and Die Hard. Gleason believed he got mesothelioma from asbestos exposure while working on building sites when he was young.

More recently, Merlin Olsen, a Professional Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman, actor, and television football commentator died of pleural mesothelioma on March 11, 2010. Olsen was diagnosed in 2009 in the later stages of the disease. He underwent three courses of chemotherapy before his passing.

Olsen filed a lawsuit in December 2009 against NBC Studios, NBC Universal, and 20th Century Fox claiming they exposed him to asbestos, which caused his mesothelioma. Olsen also named Sherwin Williams and Lennox Industries in the suit, as he had worked at a job involving drywall when he was young.

The Remission Project

So what is the Remission Project? – And who founded it and why? Both of these are very good questions.

Today I’m going to share with you who founded the Remission Project and what it was really all about. The story may be a little different from what you have heard.

It all started with 4-time survivor of cancer, Ryan Hamner. Ryan was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 5 and battled the disease until the age of 21. He ended up having a stem cell transplant in 1997 that put his cancer in remission for good!

However, it wasn’t until years later that Hamner knew that the cancer was gone for good. The reason is because he never had gone past 6 years without having a recurrence of the disease.

Today Hamner lives a totally cancer free life, and although he has had some residual effects of treatment, he is very much healthy. He works out 4 to 5 times a week, has a black belt in Aiki jiu-jitsu and is the founder of 2survive; an online community for people affected by cancer. This is an organization for cancer survivors obviously, but also for friends, family and medical staff.

One of Ryan’s favorite past times is music. He has played music and written music since the age of 13. In 2007, Hamner’s career had a nice little kick-start after he landed his first commercial record deal. After that, Hamner was fortunate enough to open for bands such as Hot Chelle Rae, Thriving Ivory and others.

In 2010, Ryan decided he wanted to do something that impacted peoples’ lives a bit more than just playing in bars, etc. So Ryan partnered with a video game for children with cancer and created the “Hear the Heart” tour.

The “Hear the Heart” tour would be instrumental in Ryan eventually laying out and founding the Remission Project. During this tour, Hamner performed at hospitals, clinics, Hope Lodges, children’s camps and virtually any place that would have him. His message was simple. His message was hope!

Upon returning home from the tour in summer 2010, Hamner was inspired to take things to the next level. He sat down and first wrote the song, “Remission” (The Survivor’s Anthem!) and then founded the Remission Project?

The project gained interest from several different local hospitals and organizations, but in the end didn’t exactly go down the path Ryan had wanted.

So what was the project anyway? Well, the project was simple. The intent was to do nothing more than bring people affected by cancer together in an online community and through Ryan’s music.

Today, Ryan operates 2survive, an online community and website that does just that. 2survive sends care packages to children with cancer, connects survivors of cancer with other survivors, offers health info from doctors, survivor stories and more. 2survive has become Ryan’s new Remission Project. If you get the time, please check it out.