Health Update: Eleven months (335 days) post-transplant -Yesterday I had from my 2nd of 6 weekly IV infusions of a new medication to help fight GVH (the new stem cells from the bone marrow transplant attacking my own cells). The medication is Basiliximab and isn’t too bad. The worst part is getting a new IV line started each time I go. Needles hurt more and more with each stick. My dry eyes are getting a little better but the sores in my mouth are still the same when I eat. A new problem that is developing for me is sore ankles. There are days I can walk fine and others where I hobble around like I need a cane. Both sides are bothersome so I am switching shoes to see if it helps. I asked my doctor about my ankles and they said it could be due to the fact that I am almost at the point where I have osteoporosis. The previous bone density test wasn’t so great so they are working on getting me the proper treatment for my bones. Until then we can sort things out with my insurance, calcium pills, high dose vitamin D, and more milk it is.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit Carthage, Missouri, to attend Marian Days (a festival and pilgrimage for Vietnamese American Roman Catholics) to help out with more bone marrow drives. In my previous blog post there was a PSA video up which aired all throughout the US. This was one of many advertising plans of Be The Match (NMDP), AADP, A3M, and Team Anh to get more exposure before we arrived in Missouri. The site was AMAZING. There were 80,000 – 100,000 Vietnamese people out there to honor the Virgin Mary and to meet other Vietnamese Catholics like themselves.
Last year I was unable to attend the drive with AADP, A3M, and Team Anh since I was in the hospital. In 2009, they registered over 2,000 Vietnamese people into the national bone marrow registry. Out of those 2,000 registered, 14 were matches to patients this past year. AMAZING!!!!
Due to last years great success, this year we had high hopes. The church provided us with a larger area to work with which had many more tables and chairs. In the evening, I was able to speak in front of a crowd of youths hoping to inspire them that they could make a difference and save a life registering. In addition, the weather was hot and humid, and we were all tired. But no one gave up as we kept working until 1 a.m. knowing that we could help save more lives. As a result of everyone’s hard work and dedication, we were able to register 1,681 new people in 3 ½ days this year. Hopefully more people will be called to donate and save lives from our efforts. GO TEAM!!!
As I was walking along the mile long procession, it was very hot. THOUSANDS (Maybe 50,000) of people were marching behind the Virgin Mary statue through the small town of Carthage, Missouri. As we came to a corner, I noticed a crowd of people grabbing something as they walked by. There was a family that rigged up a water system (2 houses across from each other, up a pole), boiled the water to clean it, ran it through an ice batch to cool it, and handed out cups of water to the Vietnamese people walking by. The Carlton family has been doing this for over 10 years and it shows the support the town has for the Vietnamese community that come to Carthage every year.
To be able to feed the 80,000 – 100,000 people for 5 days, restaurants were set up under huge tents. Here I saw a line of people making fresh bánh cuốn, which I have never seen before. It kind of looked like they were making crepes. Walking around this area, I felt like I was back in Vietnam.
One person cleaning the chicken, and the other two were frying chicken and french fries. Not quite Vietnamese food, but smelled delish.
A shot of Saturday night mass and the sea of people. It was incredible.