This past Friday I enjoyed my first consultation with the Christiana oncologist since before the transplant. He was armed with all the material relating to the transplant sent to him by Johns Hopkins, plus a couple of sets of blood tests run since I returned home, a week or so apart. He is happy with my blood counts -- so happy that he sees no reason for me to undergo any further testing in this area until after my 60-day evaluation at Hopkins, which has been scheduled for 18 February. He doesn't want to see me again until then, either. Of course, in the meantime I'm to alert him immediately if some infection evades the antibiotics and antivirals I'm now taking daily, and I begin to run a fever; I could still be in serious danger if something like that were to happen.
As if on cue, this past weekend I began to exhibit some of the symptoms of a classic head cold: a mild sore throat, followed by serial sneezing and draining sinuses, and a bit of random coughing. So far, my immune system seems to be handling the matter as if nothing ever happened to it. My temperature hasn't done so much as edge above normal. Obviously the situation bears continued close surveillance, but so far there seems to be practical evidence that the transplant worked -- at least the stem cell reinfusion part of the transplant.
As for the chemotherapeutic part of the transplant, that is another matter altogether. I received my schedule for the 60-day evaluation, and it seems to consist of a battery of blood tests and a biopsy of bone marrow taken from the hip. I solicited the Christiana oncologist's opinions about this plan, reminding him that, in my case, he had been originally unable to arrive at a definitive diagnosis with almost exactly the same set of tests; such a diagnosis was eventually based primarily on a biopsy of material taken from the spinal tumor. He conceded the truth of these assertions, but declined to offer any possible alternative testing plans; clearly, he thinks this particular ball remains strictly in the Hopkins oncologist's court. So, I will have to make the Hopkins oncologist educate me about how exactly it is possible to tell what if any effect the transplant had on the cancer itself, since right now I am frankly lost on that score. I don't think I can wait until my February visit to begin warming him up for this. He may come to regret having given me his e-mail address; certainly the Christiana oncologist has been careful not to make that mistake.