George’s Journal

I am very fortunate to advance to the point that I was released from the hospital Friday!  After 31 days of being in one room 99% of the time, trying to eat the same food every day, and where a daily treat was walking around the 6th floor once or twice a day, you can imagine how ready I was to get out!  I must say that the entire nurse staff at COH is tremendous. These men and woman deal with so much pain and suffering with their patients, yet they’re always professional and pleasing, so willing and eager to help…Genuine Guardian Angels. By the way, a patient is ready for discharge when:

  • Patient’s marrow is producing a sufficient number of healthy red cells, white cells and platelets.
  • There are no severe treatment complications
  • Patient has a sense of well-being (as a result of restored blood cell counts)
  • Mouth sores and diarrhea lessen or disappear
  • Appetite improves; it’s important that patients are able to eat and drink to get sufficient fluid and nourishment before they’re discharged.
  • Patient does not have fever and is not vomiting.

It has now been 6 days of relative freedom.  “Relative” because Cheryl and I are now staying in a small apartment at Hope & Parsons Village, located on the grounds of City of Hope.  The Village is intended to provide a temporary housing bridge to newly discharged BMT patients so that the COH team of physicians can keep a close watch on patients for at least a week before they are well enough to go to their home.  The concern is that the newly released patient may develop a life-threatening infection, or something less severe.  COH protocol is for newly discharged patients to be within 30 miles of the hospital the first week after release. Since our home in Irvine is 45 miles from COH, the COH staff arranged for our cozy little lodge.  The apartment is a decent-sized studio with kitchen, sleeping for up to three, TV, a couple chairs, dining table. Kind of reminds me of a small place at Big Bear.


My physician, Hematologist-Oncologist Dr. Robert Chen, saw me yesterday and says that I’m making excellent progress. My blood counts are progressing nicely from day to day. There has been one minor complication, which caused me to go to the COH walk-in clinic, Memorial Day.  I have experienced bouts of extreme itching, mainly on my back and chest.  This is a symptom of something called Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD), a condition in which the transplanted donor stem cells attack the patient’s body. In all allogeneic stem cell transplant settings, where the patient receives an unrelated donor’s stem cells, medications are given to prevent GVHD. These are usually started one to two days before the stem cell transfusion.

GVHD occurs in many transplant patients. GVHD may be acute or chronic. It ranges from a barely perceptible condition to one that is life-threatening. The severity of GVHD depends on the differences in tissue type between patient and donor. Right now, Dr. Chen is not too concerned. He actually said that he’s pleased that I have this symptom.  He believes it may be the result of the new stems cells attacking any remaining cancerous cells, i.e., Graft Versus Lymphoma. As you know, the reason for me pursuing the BMT was to prolong my life and eradicate the cancer in my body; so if this “itching” suggests that the stem cells are indeed “cleaning house,” by getting rid of the cancerous cells, I say Alleluia, Alleluia! God is Great….all the time!


The support provided by all of you has been incredibly inspiring throughout my journey. I want to take a moment to give a special shout out to my fellow tribesmen/friends at both the Potawatomi Tribe (Pots) and Shawnee Tribe.  For 4 years my princesses and I were involved in a YMCA sponsored program for Dad’s and Daughters called, “Indian Princess.” The program is intended for girls age 6 through 10.  There are approximately 20 tribes in the Irvine “Orange Blossom” nation. Jacquelyne, Eva and I were all members of “The Pots,” and had some great times with my fellow tribesmen and their Indian Princesses.  We enjoyed monthly meetings, and 6 or so weekend outings and other special events during the school year, such as:  Big Bear (skiing/snowboarding), Catalina Island, Big Rock (camping), Father-Daughter Breakfast, and other fun experiences.  The day before I was discharged, Greg Beauregard showed up at my room with an amazing framed-photo collage featuring Jacquelyne and/or Eva and me at various events. It blew me away! Apparently all the guys and their princesses got together and signed the back of the collage with their own personal message to us.  In addition to Greg, props to Dave Rosenburg, Rob Budetti, Robert Palmer, Don Hankus, Bob Gavin, Dan Borland, Dave Mabie, Dave Rolfe, Gavin Akins and their princesses.

Since The Pots tribe was disbanding due to 80% of the princesses graduating from the program, Eva and I joined The Shawnee Tribe last year.  We were, unfortunately, only able to attend a few events due to the beginning of my cancer complications. Nonetheless, we had fun at these events and meetings. Early last week, Eva and I received a card from the tribe’s leader, John “Chief Itchy Dog” Folis, with personal messages from many of the princesses.  Eva and I were presented with the prestigious Gold Eagle Feather (a couple cool patches) for “enduring and overcoming great challenges during the year, while remaining loyal and committed to the tribe.”  The patches will go on our vests which sport a number of other patches representing participation at various events.

We were also very touched by a financial donation from The Shawnees. The Indian Princess program is a wonderful bonding experience for Dads and Daughters.  I cannot think of any groups I would rather be associated with than the Potawatomi and Shawnee Tribes – pure class! Eva and I look forward to getting back to active status with the Shawnees next season (mirrors school year) and rejoining our friends John Folis, Bentley Kerr, Chuck Finazzo and many others for the good times with our princesses.


Yesterday, they checked my weight, and I was shocked to see that I was down to 180 pounds! I’m so skinny, my clothes just hang on me!  When I entered COH for the first time back in September, I weighed in at 210 pounds.  Eight months and Nine hospital stays later, subtract 30 pounds, and most of my muscle structure.  The first couple days out of the hospital, I was very fatigued, weak and pretty much laid around the apartment most of the day. However, each day I’m doing a bit more and feeling more capable.  I’m very confident that moderate exercise, and increased activity levels will bring my strength and weight back up. For me, 195-200 pounds is the target.

Well, that should be enough for now. I say this every post……I love reading your messages in the guestbook, please keep them coming! Your messages, emails, cards and phone calls energize and fuel me!  I reply to all posts in the reply area just below your message.

Thank you all for your prayers, messages, emails, phone calls and donations. Your generosity is really making a huge difference as Cheryl and I catch up on our numerous financial responsibilities related to my health care.  With our good Lord’s grace and will, I look forward to restoring myself to excellent health and expressing my thanks in person to as many of you as possible.

God bless you and yours,

…”With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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