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Jul 23 2011

My Next Step Ahead: BEAM Chemotherapy

In just two short days, I’ll be sitting in a hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri, getting my first dose of the chemotherapy which precedes my stem cell transplant. I intend to keep everyone up to date here and elsewhere. I know I’m not going through this alone.

What is BEAM? As with many other chemotherapy regimens, the name is an acronym of the names of the individual chemotherapy drugs being used.

B Bis-chloroethylnitrosourea, or BiCNU, or Carmustine
E Etoposide, or VP-16
A Ara-C (Arabinofuranosyl Cytidine), or Cytarabine, or cytosine arabinoside
M Melphalan hydrochloride, or Alkeran

These drugs are all rather toxic. Each of them interferes in some way with DNA synthesis. As cancer cells generally operate in a runaway replication mode, they are the first to be affected by these methods. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only cells affected. My bone marrow will be effectively shut down by these drugs. I will become very prone to infection, and possibly anemic.

After six days of this high-dose chemotherapy, I’ll get a day off to rest, if you want to call it that. The day after that, on the First of August, they’ll warm up the stem cells they harvested a couple weeks ago, and return them to my blood stream.

If all goes as planned, many of those 4.06 million stem cells will find their way back to my bone marrow, where they’ll be able to “kick-start” it back into action. The Siteman Cancer Center performs about 400 of these transplants every year, so I know I’m in good hands.

Keep an eye open here and on Twitter (And now on Google+!) for further updates.

3 comments

  1. Matthew

    Thank you for keeping us posted.

    And, as always, good luck, Dan.

  2. Chelsea Johnson

    So sad that I have to check your blog to keep up with you dad :P text me sometime!

  3. roland garner

    Dan,
    I hope you are doing fine. I just completed a second stem cell transplant at UAMS in Little Rock,Arkansas were the BEAM was given to me and now,I’m going through the side effects from this stage.In looking up BEAM, is how I ran across your site,In closing, hope you are doing well and any info. would be great.
    Thanks
    Roland

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