A brief update on Joon’s condition, following the stem cell transplant that occurred on 13 December
The first couple of weeks after the transplant have been difficult for Joon as she suffered from side effects caused by the graft versus host desease (GvHD).
GvHD happens when the donor immune system attacks the patient’s body tissues. It is characterized by selective damage to the liver, skin (rash), mucosa, and the gastrointestinal tract.
As explained in a previous post, a moderate reaction was not only anticipated but also welcome, because in Joon’s case, a mild GvHD does have some benefits. Some of the cells involved in the reaction are also expected to attack any cancer cells that may have survived. This is called the graft versus leukemia effect.
Joon went through various heavy treatments to mitigate these reactions, and the progress has been very encouraging. She feels much better and her blood results keep improving.
For now, she will stay in the hospital for several more weeks as the medical team wants to make sure that she is healthy and strong enough to go home. They also want to make sure:
- Her bone marrow is making enough healthy blood cells.
- Her immune system is slowly building up again.
- She has no severe complications.
- Her appetite has improved and she is able to take various medications on her own.
In the meantime, she is already planning several projects for herself, in respect of her studies or other personal interests. She likes photography and we have just created a new page on this blog to post some pictures she took during the summer.