Day +16: First days home.

Day +16. My counts are holding strong and some are slowly beginning to rise. Another day of great news from the clinic — my RBCs (and hemoglobin) have risen! Though my WBC count has dipped overall, including ANC and lymphocytes, I’m not worried. We’re still in a good range for WBCs and ANCs, and it’s encouraging the numbers are where they are considering I haven’t had a shot of neupogen in six days. Despite the drop in ANC, I’m still confident things are going well because the counts haven’t completely dropped out. The plan to keep doing what I’m doing is in store for the weekend, and we’ll see what my counts look like Monday morning.

I’ve been home for four days now, and it’s been quite a pleasant experience overall. I had some reservations about my mom being my caregiver, being in a completely new city and in a foreign space, but she’s done really, really well adjusting quickly. A lot of this is due to my amazing roommates Chris and Danika being so helpful and accommodating, making sure she has as many things as possible to help her feel more at home. ❤

I’ve said this before and I can’t say it enough, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Not just because I found a second stem cell transplant donor and have, thus far, had a success transplant, or because I have an amazing support system world wide made up of people who are really concerned about my complete well being, but also because of how considerate and how deeply thoughtful all the wonderful people in my life are. I’m constantly in awe of the selflessness, generosity, and love that continues to pour out to me from friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers during this trying time. I’m just so, blessed.

Thank you everyone, truly, from the bottom of my heart. There were some pretty hard, dark days when I was in the hospital when I didn’t want to keep going. But remembering all the people who were rooting for me, hoping, praying, cheering me on, helped keep me grounded. I hope the worst of the days are behind me and I can focus on the better ones to come!

Living with my mom again, after almost a decade of living on my own, has provided a few minor challenges. We haven’t had a single fight yet, which is a good sign. Instead, we bicker. Like sassy old ladies. And we chat. Like gossipy old ladies. Basically, we’re a pair of old maids. And I’m okay with that.

Most of our conversations are about food. “What do you want to eat? What’s going to be for lunch tomorrow? Did you like dinner? What else should I make you? The soup was really good, wasn’t it? And for dinner, what do you want? What about this fish I bought? When are we going to eat it? There’s no room in the refrigerator; we have to eat all of this!” All in Korean, of course.

It’s been so great getting to spend so much uninterrupted, undivided time with Momma Cho. (I’m just as shocked as you are that those words are coming from me). Over the past few years, I know how much my mom has longed to spend time with the son she lost touched with since he left for college. It’s been calming and soothing to have my mom here to assuage and address all of my aches and pains, and to make sure I take my meds on time. There’s nothing like a mother’s touch to make the aches seem less achy, and pains seem less painful. Also, home cooked meals? Yes, please.

The first few days at home were actually pretty physically rough. I was battling severe fatigue, stiff and achy joint pains, minor constipation, a number of tongue and mouth sores, and muscle soreness. There was one day I was literally curled up in a ball crying because my stomach hurt so badly (on top of everything else) and who but my mother could come in and save the day to make me feel better.

Each day that passes, I’m feeling better and better, and gaining more and more strength. My stamina is increasing each day and my appetite is definitely getting better. My personality (read: sass) is trickling back and my mental cloudiness is clearing up quite quickly. Overall a positive prognosis so far. Looking forward to seeing how the next few weeks turn out.

Day -6: Me and my octopus arm.

Day -6. I get admitted to the hospital tomorrow to begin the second stint of this ironman triathlon I call my treatment. I’m super excited to get this ball rolling so I can start moving towards being fully healthy again. Me and my octopus arm (my Hickman line, which I’ve had for 8 months now and is still annoying) are ready!

After a pre-admit appointment in the morning, I’ll go through the tedious process of being admitted and getting situated back on 11 Long at UCSF. Then in the evening I begin day one of a four day bout of chemo, followed by a single dose of total body irradiation on day -1, and then peripheral blood stem cell transplantation on day 0.

Excited actually doesn’t quite capture how I’m feeling. I’m a mix of ecstatic, prepared, and hopeful with a good twist of anxious and nervous. It’s a similar feeling to the day before the first day of school, when you’re rearing to go but also hesitant. But I’m ready, I’m here, let’s do this.

Over the past few days I’ve been getting things in my apartment in order and making sure that things are set up for when my mom gets here upon my discharge from the hospital. I’ve also packed up a good chunk of my life to take with me to the hospital. After all, I will be there for a month, so a brother’s gotta figure out things to do!

Aside from the regular stuff like toiletries, electronics, and comfy socks, I’ve made sure to pack up craft supplies, puzzles, and Halloween goodies! No keyboard this time because it was pretty bulky and I ended up not playing it as much as I would have liked.

Since Halloween will happen while I’m admitted, I’m bringing candy and supplies to make goody bags for the other patients on the floor. (I hope no one’s allergic to chocolate or peanut butter…). I’ll be hand crafting each bag and filling them with candy to distribute on Halloween; sort of like reverse Trick or Treating because the candy’s coming to you. I’m excited.

I’m also going to be a vampire for Halloween this year. I figure it’s the perfect costume because: A) I’ve never been a vampire, and B) If I could, I’d suck people’s blood all the time (since, you know, I’m pretty anemic). Just because I’ll be stuck in the hospital doesn’t mean I can’t have fun! 😀

I’ve been up to a few baking projects as well before going in. Croissants, fruit tarts, cookies, and cakes. I thought I’d share a few of them. #mincreations


Butter and jamon & gruyere croissants.
A true labor of love. It took 3 days to make these flaky, delicious puppies. I turned the spare croissants into croissant bread pudding the next day (no photos were taken; it didn’t last long).


Mixed berry and fig tart.
The last of the summer berries in a tart with pastry cream and a pate sablee crust.


Six layered chocolate peanut butter cake.
This puppy was made for a dear friend of mine’s birthday. Six alternating layers of chocolate cake, peanut butter, and peanut butter cream cheese frosting; iced with said frosting, topped with a dark chocolate ganache and Reese’s mini cup bits. I used an entire jar of peanut butter for it. It was a big as my head and so delicious!

With my last day of “freedom,” I’m doing laundry, visiting some of my favorite places in SF one last time, and finalizing all my packing. Round 2, here we go!