Tami's doctors are continuing to assess her response to the Prednisone to control the Graft vs. Host Disease. They are hoping to reduce the dosage as soon as possible as the Prednisone will delay her ability to fight off infection and infection in someone who is immunocompromised can become catastrophic.
From the Fred Hutchinson Website:
Patients who show gastrointestinal symptoms of the disease usually receive a two to four-week course of high-dose systemic prednisone therapy that is then tapered slowly. However, that treatment is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is designed to suppress the donor cells so GVHD can be controlled. But suppressing the immune system also makes patients more susceptible to potentially fatal infections, so the less time spent on a high-dose treatment, the better.
GVHD can become a long term condition and now that Tami has been diagnosed with it she may have to continue to deal with it for many years to come. I've read that patients often battle it in the short term for as few as 2-3 years and long term for as many as 5-10 years.
So the Good News is What?I know this is hard to believe but there is good news in Tami developing GVHD. Patients who suffer GVHD and overcome it, benefit from a reduced risk of relapse of their cancer. This is because the same cells that cause the GVHD are also known to fight cancer cells so if she were to begin to relapse her new stem cells may be able to eliminate the cancer cells before they take over again. So at least there is a silver lining for all of the stomach pain Tami has suffered through up until a few days ago.