Sometimes great discoveries are made accidentally. Scientists sometimes make fascinating observations without knowing how to explain such findings or their future implications. Astute analysis and innovative thinking can transform these curious moments into profound advances in medicine. Initially conceived to reverse radiation injury in the 1950’s, bone marrow – or onomatopoetic stem cell – transplantation represents just such an advance in the treatment of blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Although it means a second chance for many patients and enables some to even beat their cancer, it is a therapy with serious risks. The treatment itself as well as the long-term consequences of transplantation presents hazardous challenges.
When patients, families, and doctors discuss treatment options, the term “bone marrow transplant” often stands for hope. To some, it may sound like a futuristic experimental therapy while for others it is a last resort. For most, however, it remains an abstract concept without meaning. Anita M’s book fills this void by guiding the reader through the process of bone marrow transplantation. Her photographs illustrate the preparatory stages, the procedure itself, and the period following the infusion of the blood stem cells that constitutes the actual “stem cell transplantation”. She captures every aspect of the transplantation process and transforms it into an intimate, personal story.
This book allows the reader to accompany her husband through his transplantation and shines light onto this unknown. The juxtaposition of a purely technical procedure with an individual patient experience from the perspective of a loved one speaks to patients, families, and caregivers both cognitively and emotionally. By documenting bravery and vulnerability simultaneously, we can see clearly the limitations of both humans and modern medicine. In the end there still remain many unknowns, but nevertheless hope.