My name is Mark Rosenthal. I am a 44 yr old male living in Johannesburg.
In 2006 I was diagnosed of Multiple Myeloma. I underwent four chemo treatments of four days each, 4 days on and 17 days off, this took about four months.
After all my chemotherapy treatments I was all ready to have my first of two stem cell transplants, fortunately I was in remission and my own stem cells could be used for what they call an autologous transplant. Before having the stem cell transplant I had to have my stem cells harvested.
This started off with a series of self-administered (growth factor) injections. The injections are administered under the skin, and the needle is so small and thin that it is totally painless!! They stimulate the production of stem cells. I had one injection at six am and one at six pm for five days prior to the harvest.
I had my stem cell harvest at the Flora Clinic, it’s really so simple and pain free. The machine is called a cell separator machine and like its name does just that, it separates your blood and captures the stem cells in a small bag.
On my first of three days, starting at 8am an intravenous line was inserted in my arm and my blood was filtered through the machine and after it has been spun and filtered it went back into my blood stream and back into my body. It was painless and you don’t feel any different because all your blood is returned back into your body. I felt the same throughout the whole procedure which in my case took about 4 hours. In some cases it could take a little longer before they have the required volumes of stem cells. Whilst on the machine I listened to my I-pod and was totally relaxed. You can also read or have a friend sit with you. After the procedure I drove home and felt 100% normal.
I had three harvests over a three day period. After each harvest my stem cell’s were frozen and stored. This was because they were harvesting my own stem cells for my autologous bone marrow stem cell transplant, as I was fortunate enough to be in remission.
After going through all my chemotherapy treatments and all the side effects that come with it, beating my cancer would not have been possible without the success of my stem cell transplants. Had I not been able to use my own stem cells finding a donor would have been a difficult task!!
My plea to anyone out there is to become a bone marrow stem cell donor by giving just two teaspoons of blood to join the SA Bone Marrow Registry. By doing so you could possibly be giving someone a second chance!!
Such a small painless procedure can change someone’s life. Having been down that road, I feel that cancer patients who are fighting for there life are true warriors.
So just think of saving a life! And you too can be a superhero!!