May 29th, 10 – Jake 23

Dear all,

It’s Jacob here again! Since my last email things have begun to move forward in preparation for my stem-cell transplant, which now has a set date for the 24th June. I’ve now finished my course of radiotherapy to my neck and seem to have got off rather lightly with just a bit of a sore throat and mouth. I’ve also finished my course of chemotherapy for now until my neck is re-scanned to check for any remaining disease.  The consultants here have said that they would like to have me as close to a full remission as possible before I go for transplant.

There have been a number of tests and scans to ensure that my body can cope with the various treatments ahead. The first of these treatments is what’s called T.B.I, Total Body Irradiation. This is radiotherapy given to your entire body to wipe out all the cells and give me a ‘spring clean’ to make room for Ben’s stem cells. I will also be undergoing more chemotherapy treatments with new drugs and new side effects. In the meantime Ben will be injecting himself with a chemical that encourages his body to over produce white blood cells. These will then be ‘harvested’ and injected into my empty body to give me a completely new immune system. The nurses often refer to this as my second birthday! After this, inside my body, there will be a fight going on between my old immune system and Ben’s new one and this often causes a disease called Graft Versus Host Disease (G.V.H.D). This also has many side effects and manifestations. In total the whole process should last 4 to 6 weeks and for most of the time I will be locked away in a room far from any infections even with its own air supply!

Even reading over the last paragraph for me it seems very daunting indeed. However, I am reassured constantly that this is the best option and I am in one of the top centres in the world for this kind of treatment. It is also extremely encouraging to see so many people who have come out the other side and are living relatively ‘normal’ lives and even getting back to work including the actor Timothy Spall who kindly wrote to me . It is, and will be, so important to me to have all your support and encouragement during what will be a grueling time so thank you in advance for this!

With all our love and best wishes to you all

Do keep in touch but sorry if I don’t respond personally,

Jacob x

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