Before you go into hospital, it can help to prepare yourself by knowing what to expect, planning what to take in with you and thinking about what support you might need.
Listen to our podcast with our nurse specialist Hayley about how you can prepare for your transplant.
You’ll probably be in hospital for about 3-4 weeks, from your pre-transplant treatment to the time when you’re well enough to go home afterwards.
Once you go home, you’ll still have regular check-ups; once or twice a week at first, gradually reducing over time.
This varies depending on the type of stem cell transplant you’ve had, and how well you and your new immune system are recovering.
It usually takes at least six months to a year before your level of activity starts to get back to normal. To find out more, read Keeping track of your recovery
You may have several appointments at the hospital before you have your stem cell or bone marrow transplant.
Unfortunately, the high-dose chemotherapy you have before your transplant means that you’re at risk of having fertility problems. This can be tough to deal with, especially if you were planning to start your family now or in the future.
Before you start your conditioning therapy, your transplant team will discuss your fertility and ways to preserve it.
During your stem cell transplant, you’ll be given different types of medicines, blood and the transplant itself. To avoid lots of injections, you’ll have a special ‘central line’ inserted instead during a minor operation.
This is a thin tube through the skin near your collarbone and into the big vein that leads into your heart. You might also hear this called a CVC, Hickman or PICC line. Your team will give you more information about how to keep your line clean and care for it.
Read Adam’s blog about having a Hickman line.
Many people worry about who will look after their children, pets or house while they’re in hospital. Ask your friends and family for support – people are often more than happy to help and want to feel useful.
Talk to your medical team about other kinds of support and any concerns. They can support you or put things in place to allow you to focus on the most important thing: your recovery.
Although you’ll have a lot on your mind, it’s never too early to start thinking about getting financial support and taking time off work. You could always ask a family member or friend to look into this if you’ve got too much on your plate.
After your transplant, you’ll need to spend some time in protective isolation. This usually means that you’ll be in a single room with the door closed. There is normally a special air conditioning system, making the air in your room very clean and reducing the risk of infections.
It helps to plan ahead and bring some things in advance. For example:
Read our leaflet about dealing with isolation.
‘Every card that would arrive I’d pin up on the board. When I was sitting up at 2am feeling sick and not able to sleep – there was just a wall of cards from friends – which I referred to as my wall of love.’
Paul, had a transplant in 2010. Watch Paul’s video about life after transplant.