Recovery tips for post bone marrow transplant
By Dr. Dr Satish Kumar A, Clinical Haematologist and Hemato-oncologist, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital
Cancer, the term itself triggers anxiety,
fear and a sense of disbelief to the person dealing with it. Undergoing the
cancer treatment can be devastating for the patient and his family members.
However, understanding the different treatment methods and coping up with this
is crucial at this point of time. One such awareness required in the cancer
treatment is about bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow transplant is a type of
procedure that is used when a person’s bone marrow is completely destroyed or
damaged by disease, or chemotherapy.
Bone marrow is a vital fatty and spongy
tissue inside our bones which helps in production of red blood cells, that carry
oxygen and nutrients, white blood cells, that fight infections and formation of
platelets, responsible for clotting, in our body. When bone marrow fails or is
involved by cancer, these functions in the body gets halted, leading to this
necessary procedure, known as the bone marrow transplant. The process involves
transplanting of stem cells that travel to the damaged bone marrow, producing new
marrow, and forming new blood cells.
This procedure is of two types and are totally dependent on the reason
behind the transplant.
- Autologous Transplants – In this procedure, the affected
person’s own stem cells are used. Harvesting of the cells begin even before
procedures like chemotherapy and radiation. This method can be followed only if
the person has a healthy bone marrow.
- Allogeneic Transplants – This procedure involves a donor
who has a genetically close match with the patient. If you already have a
damaged bone marrow, this procedure is opted. The success of this procedure
depends on how closely the donor cells match the receiver genetically.
Usually after a person undergoes this
procedure, it can take weeks to months for the complete recovery depending on
the immunity of the person. But post the procedure one can follow few healthy
tips which can help in faster and better recovery, those tips are –
- Support from family and friends: As it
takes time to recover from such huge procedure, emotional and physical support
from loved one’s can help a person in faster recovery. With family and friends
around, the person will feel positive aiding to a faster recovery
- You might feel different around you: As
your body is undergoing total change, you might feel weak, not hungry, lose
sense of taste, difference in the way you smell things. These feelings are very
normal after a bone marrow transplant because the cells in your mouth, muscles,
stomach and intestines are re-growing. So give yourself the time to get back to
normal. Overly forcing yourself to normality will only delay your recovery
- You are more prone to infections: Keep
yourself safe and free from infections. Infections are the biggest hurdle a
person will face probably within 2-4 weeks after the transplant. Since white
blood cells are under multiplication process, you will be more prone to
bacteria and virus based infections. So take extra precautions like antibiotics
against infections, regular hand wash, maintain distance from sick people and
if required wear a mask when you are in public places.
- Maintain healthy diet: Avoid smoking and
drinking as these habits will only delay your recovery. Consume lean proteins
like fish and poultry, other than these dry fruits and whole grains can help
you get your lost strength and energy.
- Go for regular checks: Do not skip any
of your appointments with your doctor. These medical checks will help you and
your doctor understand the rate of your recovery.
- Contact your doctor immediately: If you
feel nausea, flushed, sweaty, sudden chills, sneezing, coughing, high
temperature, unusual body pain, pain while peeing or pain in your rectum,
shortness of breath, blurred vision then contact your doctor immediately. Get
yourself admitted if required.
- Post recovery side effects: A bone
marrow transplant can lead to many odds leading to life time problems like infertility,
cataracts, organ damage, relapse of previous cancer, hormonal imbalances. Talk
to your doctor and stay informed of these side effects.
With right support from family and your
doctor, you will be on the right path to faster recovery.