Stem Cell Transplant

There’s been a story in the news the past few days about how stem cell transplant is the standard of care for MM patients, and a study has been released that shows data to support that SCT resulted in longer survival for MM patients. This is a link to the CNN story. This is the Yahoo News story.

It says that median survival after SCT was about a year longer than for those who just had standard chemo. I’ve been obsessing about SCT ever since I learned about it after diagnosis. I am terrified of it. I know some people who have been through it and didn’t have such a hard time. Others had some difficulties. Most of the people I talked to (on the MM list) had SCT and relapsed. I guess the successful ones aren’t on the list anymore?

The things I’m struggling with are issues like:
– No way to predict the outcome. Will I get any remission at all?
– What will the long term effects be? Someone on the list had reported having lost the use of her right arm. Was this a result of the high dose chemo/nerve damage?
– If I’m pretty healthy already, will killing my immune system weaken me so that I will now be susceptible to other things I never faced before?

Here I am at 41 years old. I have NEVER had anything like pneumonia or bronchitis. I have never even had a urinary tract infection. I can count the number of fevers I’ve had in my lifetime on one hand. I have never broken a bone.

I really don’t know what to do about this. I don’t know how to make this decision, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Sometimes I’m almost ready to accept it. Sometimes I just think I’d rather die than go through that. I know that lots of people have lived through it and are fine. I just don’t know how you balance the possible benefits (or none at all, possibly) with the risks. I have never felt really crummy for weeks on end. Is that what having a SCT feels like? Weeks of suffering? Can anyone comment?