The Latest Bottom Line: Reid’s Path to Transplant

Reid and Emily - March 2011

Dear friends – far and near,

Here’s the latest chapter of developments for our Reid. I’ve tried to keep it simple, which is challenging on many, many levels. Suffice to say, I hope you’ll read the whole letter, and I hope you all know how grateful we are for your love and support as Reid embarks on this inexplicable and life changing marathon.

Reid will be checking into Oregon Health Sciences University’s Bone Marrow Treatment Center on Monday, June 27. He will undergo about seven days of a pre-transplant combination of radiation and chemo-therapy. The essential purpose of this is to completely clear his body of familiar cells so that when the new stem cells are introduced into his system they move into a clean house that will be less likely to reject the new cells and prevent them from settling in and helping Reid get healthy.

His transplant day will probably be July 5. The process itself is very like a blood transfusion and takes little time. Reid is fortunate to have a stem cell donor who is a 12/12 match for him (the highest match possible for an unrelated donor). She (yes, his donor is a woman) is also young and very healthy, and we look forward to thanking her in a year or so for her amazing gift of life.

After the transplant, Reid will stay in the Knight Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (K14) at OHSU for about 30 days. It’s an extremely tricky time for him as his body will be adapting to the new stem cells. In particular, Reid will be at significant risk of infection as his new immune system (basically that of a premie-newborn) is learning to do its job. He can enjoy visitors, but even more than ever before – visitors MUST be healthy!

Sometime around the 5th of August, Reid will be discharged from K14 and move into a nearby living situation in Portland (more on that in a moment). For the next 100 days from that point, Reid will be hanging out, resting a lot, going to the OHSU clinic on a daily basis, staying healthy at home, and living a super clean lifestyle. He’ll need to have someone with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re making arrangements for Emily (his amazing girlfriend) to be able to be with Reid most of the time, while also starting to schedule other friends and family members to be with the two of them – and to just be with Reid while Emily takes breaks and sees her family back in Ashland as needed. (Have I mentioned how in awe of Emily I am? Look up loyal, loving and devoted in the dictionary; I’m pretty sure you’ll see her photo.)

There are lots of practical and very no-nonsense details involved in being Reid’s “caregiver” during this critical post transplant time, including: keeping an extremely sanitary home, making sure he takes his medications (upwards of 30 different meds a day), escorting him to clinic every day, helping make sure he eats his special diet and stays well hydrated, putting up with his crazy sense of humor, watching a lot of movies together and being a sensible, loving head and heart.

Now, this is the tough part of this update because you know how hard it is for me to ask for help. But here goes: many among you have been asking for months now how you can assist Reid and our family on this journey. I am humbled and in appreciation that I can write to you with ideas of how support be offered at this juncture. Here are some possibilities….

In the hospital – between June 27 and August 1 – send to:
Reid Honeywell 
Oregon Health Sciences University
3181 Sam Jackson Parkway
Portland, OR 97239-3011

Reid most appreciates gift cards from places like Amazon & Borders as he can choose books, movies, games, music that he most loves, and it’s easy to download to his laptop.
Also, I am happy to forward emails to him. Please be patient about replies, as he is now – and is sure to be pretty exhausted throughout this process.

A Financial Boost:
There are a lot of extra expenses right now. While his medical expenses are covered by insurance and there are small stipends available – most post transplant living expenses in Portland are not covered. Our biggest extra costs are going to be: caregivers traveling back and forth to Portland, food expenses for the caregivers (for four months!), me taking ten days or so off work each month, and Emily taking time off from work for the entire summer.

We would be profoundly grateful for donations to the account that was created for Reid at People’s Bank of Commerce in Ashland.

How to: Donations to the Reid Honeywell Leukemia Fund may be made at any Rogue Valley location of the People’s Bank of Commerce:
In Ashland, 1500 Siskiyou Blvd. (541) 488-7301
In Medford, 750 Biddle Road (541) 776-5350
In Central Point, 1017 E. Pine (541) 665-5262

Portland Connections:
If any of you know anyone – friends, family, real estate buddies from college, well-connected Portlanders – who might have a line on a clean two bedroom apt. or house, preferably furnished and in a friendly neighborhood – that is within 15 min. by car in regular traffic to OHSU….PLEASE connect me to your source. Feel free to share our story with them, and please help us find a safe, cozy affordable home for Reid while he has to live in Portland.

Finally, (for now),
~ like most complicated complications that life throws at us, there aren’t simple ways to share detailed information about things like stem cell transplants. And though I’ve tried to be sparing – this is a lengthy correspondance.

Reid’s sweet Emily proofread it for me and said, “It’s all in there, but it’s not your usual Martha-esque writing.” I shrugged and told her, “I’m afraid no one will read to the end if I really tell them everything…” So, I asked my inner Jane Austin to sit out this round. The irony is, of course, that I’ve gone ahead and included this last couple paragraphs. What can I say, Jane gets itchy to chime in? Here’s the latest bottom line:

Cancer sucks. It hurts. It’s hard to endure. It’s scary and isolating. It’s not fair, and we all wish it would just go away. I hate that it’s hurting Reid.

Cancer also acts as a crazy lightening-bolt-reminder of what is real, important and essential in each moment of what poet Mary Oliver calls “this one precious life we are given”.  It brings together community, friends and family. It slows us down and demands that we pay attention. And it reduces everything and everyone who we care about to one raw and forgivable imperfect component that we all possess: Love.

Mother's Day 2011 - My first-born!

Thank you for the love – and the shared faith that all will be well,

About Martha Phelps Studio ~ creative on purpose

...a meandering journal of a changing life and the unexpected graces it brings. Earlier posts may provide some history, but this series of writings aren't likely to follow a straight line as I explore topics such as raising kids, making choices, self discovery, the impact of change on a family and how to (hopefully) live with balance and purpose.
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1 Response to The Latest Bottom Line: Reid’s Path to Transplant

  1. Jason says:

    I’m one of those Portland (sort of) connections. I’m sitting out on the front porch of my house watching a neighbor move out of his rental house. It’s a small house but probably adequate for your purposes. We live about fifteen minutes from OHSU, and we are so happy to live in close proximity to some of the greatest friends and neighbors anyone could hope for. Another benefit for you might be that we have many medical people in our neighborhood. We would be happy to help out and I can honestly say that I think you would be welcomed to our little neighborhood with open arms. Feel free to email me.

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