Lots of cancer's are "staged". It depends on the kind and lots of factors. Stage Four is bad. Stage One is not so bad. People move back and forth in the stages and it rules their lives.
Leukemia is sort of like being pregnant. You are or you are not... Simple.
Mary-Elizabeth does not have leukemia any more. She has not had it in her system since some time in November of 2011. She has been in "remission" or not pregnant since then. In order to have her transplant, she had to be cancer free. The whole cancer free thing seems to be confusing because of the length of the "treatment". It does not fight leukemia, it just beats up the bone marrow to such an extent that in theory, no respectful leukemia would dare to come back.
The various kinds of stem cell transplants, bone marrow, cord blood, related, non-related, self-donated, all of those are just jargon. You sign papers, let them kill the cells in your bone marrow that produce blood cells and replace them with healthy, happy, normal cells. Or that is the plan.
So, since we live in Leukemia World and we don't get to have stages, (not that we really want them), I have decided we are in Stage Ten. I figure we have been here long enough to just make up stuff.
Stage One: She was diagnosed on Friday the 13th of August 2004.
Stage Two: She was Leukemia free or in Remission on September 13, 2004.
Stage Three: December 7, 2016, she took her last dose of Chemo therapy.
Stage Four: Relapse on September 28th 2011.
Stage Five: Remission November 10th, 2011.
Stage Six: Double Cord Blood Transplant, 2012.
Stage Seven: First new baby countable cells show up in her blood, February 11, 2012
Stage Eight: August 1, 2014, the final doses of immunosupressents are taken. (Should have only had to take them for 100 days, but who is counting....)
Stage Nine: De-Portation Day. The port that lives under her skin with a nice tube going directly into her heart, is removed. August 25, 2014...
Stage Ten: Trying to begin to believe and trust it is over.
This is a journey at its end. We have traveled across the country to find a path to the sea and have returned to tell our tale. Like Lewis and Clark we are worn and battered and very ready to sleep in our own safe homes.
Stage Ten begins today.