Step six: Stem cell transplant

Your transplant day is the day your stem cells are given back to you. This will occur 24-72 hours after the high-dose chemotherapy is completed. Several staff members will help you during this time, including nurses and laboratory technicians. Your caregiver may also be with you.

You may notice some chilling, nausea, fever, cough, flushing, headache, abdominal cramps or diarrhea. Your nurse will give you medication to decrease these effects.

Although a stem cell transplant sounds dramatic, the actual procedure is simple. The stored frozen cells will be thawed in warm sterile saline and infused through your CVC. During the cell infusion, you may notice a garlic-like odor and taste. Sucking on hard candy or chewing gum may decrease this taste if you find it unpleasant.

The cause of this odor is the preservative DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide), which is used during the freezing process to prevent ice crystals from damaging the cells. The odor, which may be detected in your breath, urine, stool, saliva and perspiration, will be noticeable to those around you for one to two days after the infusion and will then disappear.

Additionally, your urine may turn a reddish-burgundy color following the infusion. This is due to the painless passing of red blood cells that may have been contained in the stem cell infusion. Your urine will return to its normal color in one to two days.