Editors confession: Editing Tamlin's story has deeply challenged my own story telling. Whenever I tell my own daughter's cancer story I'm reluctant to tell the brutal truth; the vomiting blood and mucus, the ulcers from mouth to stomach, the chemo burns and the toxic poisoning. Thank you Tamlin for your honesty, absent of all self pity. Next time I tell my daughters story I will do her fight more justice.
In preparation for the new bone marrow, my first 3 days in BMT were filled with radiation.
I was the exception to the rule of entering the BMT phase clear of disease; if we had waited, I would have died.
I would start the day and end the day lying on a mould made specially for me, embracing the thing that could give me skin cancer and severely damage my organs, in a last desperate hope of ensuring that I had no (BPDCN) cancer cells remaining, hiding away somewhere in my body.
It was a last, hopeful, attempt to rid my body of the remaining cells that were in my bone marrow.
Even though I was being wheeled everywhere I was exhausted. I had no idea that this new level of exhaustion or desperation had existed. There were days where I would almost fall asleep in the bath or on the toilet.
I would wake up at 8:00am and take my foul medicine that seemed to be coming by the bucketful.
Thanks to the radiation, my throat and mouth was more ulcers and mucositis than anything else leaving me unable to eat and drink. Because I couldn’t eat, or drink and I was only having the occasional Paddle Pop, action had to be taken.
The nurses tried to snake a nasal-gastric tube through my nose to my stomach, they tried this a total of 3 times before they realised I would just keep throwing it back up. It was soon decided that I was to be hooked up to an IV that supplied me with the nutrients I needed.
My days in transplant were mostly spent falling asleep on my mother while watching a tv show or a movie. When my dad came to look after me, however, we would play scrabble or read.
One day, the day I was getting my new bone-marrow, I had the scariest moment of my life.
My dad, after being away overseas, was looking after me while my mum was with my brother when I started vomiting blood. There was no warning or specific cause, just the way BMT knocks you around.
Nevertheless, seeing this red substance come spitting out of my mouth made me think I was dying; that the cancer was winning, defeating me. I remember my dad being in the corner of the room to being right beside me rubbing my back while whispering that I was okay, that everything was fine.
Soon there were what seemed like seas of nurses, when my mum arrived. She was easy to pick out; like black in clouds of white.
Turns out I wasn’t dying. It was a side affect of all the medication and radiation they put me through.
I received later that night 1284mL of new, non-cancerous bone-marrow.
Editors note: The spectacular non-cancerous bone marrow was gifted to Tamlin by her big brother. Anyone in the know is astounded to hear the size of his donation, 1284ml is an enormous gift. Given her unique situation of still harboring cancer cells they needed Tamlin to receive as much bone marrow from her brother as possible. He tells me he gave it willingly to save his sister.
Not all bone marrow recipients are lucky enough to find a donor within their family. They often have to gratefully accept an international donor. If you are a blood donor in Australia, thank you. Being a blood donor doesn't automatically put you on the bone marrow registry. Next time you donate, PLEASE ask to be on the bone marrow registry - they take a small extra vial of blood and the results are stored and donors are searched internationally. You my never match a recipient but in the case that you do you will be saving a life in a very real, very immediate way.
Call the Red Cross on 13 14 95 to make an appointment or click the button below.