Happy Birthday ME!

Well, I made it! Another birthday under my belt, and more to come as I continue to fight my way to a healthy and worry free life.

I had a bone marrow biopsy done last week that showed my marrow is still clear of any cancer despite the bump on my chest that proved to have cancer in it last time. The bump was biopsied Tuesday to see what is going on in there. Like I said – last time the bump proved to have Leukemia inside of it so we are a little worried that it has returned after the chemotherapy. I also had a CT scan to see if there are more bumps that we can’t see on the skin yet, and to figure out how we should treat it.

It sounds like the next step is to radiate the bump and get rid of it. Then we go back to Chemo and then we talk about transplants once everything is back under control.

So I ask you all, have a drink for me! Lets celebrate this year, and to another year of fighting and winning!


Cancer here I come!!!

Let me start off with a WOW what a crazy and fun week we have had. First we went down to California for the weekend (3rd-6th) and had a blast with the family. Kat got to see some of her family as well and we had a big giant sleep over at the parents. We then returned to home where some of our good friends and Kat’s co-workers/ex-co-workers had a Vegas themed party to help raise some money for us, it was a blast and was very successful. It is so amazing to have friends and family that love and support us, we can only hope to do the same for them in the future!

We met with Dr. G (transplant Doctor) yesterday and, I start another round of maintenance chemotherapy next week – just to make sure I stay in remission. It looks like there will be another transplant in the future about 1-2 months from now – It’s called a Cord Transplant (where they use an umbilical cord from a baby to do another transplant of stem cells.) The Doctor say’s there are no guarantees with this transplant and that it will be a challenge, but what do I say?

So chemo early next week – my whole family will be up for my birthday on the 25th 🙂 crossing my fingers that I will be home for my birthday.

Thanks again to everyone for all the love all the support and just being amazing people.

The Brandmeiers

Home again – but not for long.

Well yesterday was the first day we met with the doctor in a couple of months. He DID confirm that my bone marrow is clean and that everything looks great from that stand point. He did let us know that time is precious and that we know we aren’t in a good situation at all.

So the plan – right now wait a few weeks, make sure that all my tests look good CAT scan, chest x Ray, blood. So mid June we are looking at another high dose of chemo to make sure I stay in remission. Then 2 big ways to go, 1 use more of ricks cells to trigger more graft vs host – but almost all results with a half match result in death because of graft vs host – so the doc obviously doesn’t like this one right now but changes his mind frequently. 2nd is to do another transplant with an umbilical cord from a mis match – the problem with that is it takes long to produce good strong white cells so your risk of infection is very high and will cause death, as well as umbilical transplant don’t usually last long.

So right now all I know is that thing don’t look so hot in my favor. I just will enjoy more time with my loved ones since I know my time may be up soon. I will continue to fight for my right to live and to have a wonderful life.


It wasn’t long after Craig got home that I had to pack him into the car and bring him to the emergency room for spiking a fever. This is the normal routine for us now. Under normal circumstances, one might just take some Tylenol and be done with it. For us, a fever could mean an infection is brewing in Craig’s body, and without the protection of white blood cells, he could be dead or pretty close in a matter of hours. So when he has a temperature above 100.4 degrees, we grab our coats and RUN for the car. It’s a 30 minute drive to our hospital’s ER. They are alerted that we will be coming and make sure to pull us into a separate room so that we are not sitting in the lobby with a crowd of sick people. A few hours of testing (blood cultures, urine sample, x-ray and so on) and waiting go by. No one waits for test results. Antibiotics are started, and we wait for a room on the 14th floor to be available, because when there is a neutropenic fever involved, a lockdown is in order. I would need my fingers AND toes to count on digits the number of times we’ve done this in the last year and a half. And our evening on last friday (the 16th) was no different.

9 days later, Craig is still stuck in his room, with fevers that get as high as 103 degrees. He was tested positive for MRSA in his blood and in his lungs. The central line that had been in his chest since September was pulled. It is usually a breeding area for bacteria. If you remember the infection Craig had back in July that stole a month of his life and threatened to take more, then you know the fears we have about MRSA.

So far, Craig has remained lucid and relatively pain-free. He has developed a cough but CT scans on his lungs remain the same as they were a few days ago. His blood counts are still at NOTHING and they will take at least a week longer to start coming up. Without white blood cells, Craig cannot fight off infection on his own. With low red blood cells, Craig is extremely exhausted and at a high risk for falling down (it has already happened once). Without platelets, an injury from falling means his body cannot stop itself from bleeding. Antibiotics and prayer are going to help us kick this infection and allow Craig’s body to recover.

An iPad might help, too =) Craig has been enjoying his new toy and it has been a topic of interest for every doctor and nurse that comes through his door. A little distraction goes a long way when he can’t play with puppies or kitties or babies.

I have am taking off work this week so that I am free to go back and forth between the hospital and home to where the puppy waits. Judy and Brad will be up at the end of the week. Brad will get back to the business after the weekend and Judy is planning to stay for a longer visit. We hope she can get to see Craig come home.

Thanks for checking in. Much love to you all.


Craig is home from a 6-day chemo treatment in the hospital. This time, his doctors used the MFAC regimen. It is a combo of Mylotarg, Fludarabine, Cytarabine, and Cyclosporine. He gets a shot in the arm of Neupogen every day for the next two weeks to increase his white blood cells because they will be so low for so long (I get to be the lucky shot-giver) Craig is happy to be home, although he says he feels worse than he did after the transplant. Perhaps it is this new regimen, maybe it’s just the toll all these poisons have taken on his body round after round. He has been so brave through it all, how he puts up with all this is beyond me.

The goal of this round’s treatment is to get the leukemia back into remission. Craig’s doctors have not yet talked to us about what options we have once it is in remission. All we know is that ‘remission’ in our case has proven not to last very long.

But for now, we are waiting out the next few weeks, being vigilant of Craig’s counts and staying away from crowds and sickos. My mom has been staying with us for the last couple of weeks and Craig’s parents will be up here at the end of the month. It has been good to see family.
We will post when we have more news! Xoxo, Kat

Day 182: On Relapse and Staying Relentless.

We have been enjoying an almost normal life for the last 6 months. We’ve been lucky to have only a handful of scares which turned out to be fixable. Yesterday morning at 8am, a phone call from Dr. G brought us to our knees with heartache. The bump on Craig’s chest was biopsied and shown to be a clear sign of relapse. We spent the day at OHSU getting an emergency bone marrow biopsy to see if there is Leukemia already in Craig’s marrow. Today he will have a PET scan to see if there are any more areas of concern in his body. We will meet with Dr. G on Tuesday to discuss our options…

With each relapse, Craig’s chance for long term survival is torn in half, but his will to live only grows stronger. We are devastated, but we will get through this, and we know how many of you are sending love our way. We also know that this never-ending fight rings true for thousands of other patients with Leukemia and the likes. You can help give us all hope by considering registering to be someone’s marrow match at bethematch.org (see link below) and telling all your friends to join, too!

If you saw Craig’s episode of ‘True Life: I Need A Trasplant’ on MTV and want to know how you can help people in his situation, then you should become a registered bone marrow donor. Please visit BeTheMatch to check it out and register – when asked for a promo code please enter in truelife2010 this will waive the $52 dollar test kit fee and register you under our name so we can keep track of how many people we’ve inspired to save a life.

Thank you all for your relentless support.
-Kat and Craig

golf tourny/ update / be a donor

The golf tournament that the VFW held in my honor was amazing! They helped raised a good amount of money to help Kat and I get some of these medical bills under control. I can not thank all of them enough for doing this for my family as well as thanks to all the Marines that came out showed support and had some fun golfing! MANY THANKS OVER AND OVER to the VFW and everyone that donated and helped!

I just want to say thanks for all the support and love from all you random strangers! My family and I have just be in shock by the amount of support and love you all have given us. We are so grateful everyday and every minute we have with each other and with all you. Today marks day 176 after transplant and so far I am doing great!

If you saw my episode of True Life and want to know how you can help people in my situation, then you should become a register bone marrow donor. Please visit BeTheMatch and register – when asked for a promo code please enter in truelife2010 this will void the 50 dollar sign up fee and register you under my name so we can keep track of how many people have signed up!

Please feel free to look me up on Facebook – link is at the top of page!

Be a Donor / Golf Tournament

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934 will host a charitable golf tournament March 22 at Shorecliffs Golf Course in San Clemente to help raise money for Craig’s medical bills.

Please click this link for more information Golf Info

If you saw my episode of True Life and want to know how you can help people in my situation, then you should become a register bone marrow donor. Please visit BeTheMatch and register – when asked for a promo code please enter in truelife2010 this will void the 50 dollar sign up fee and register you under my name so we can keep track of how many people have signed up!

Please feel free to look me up on Facebook or let me know how to liked the episode!

Have you registered yet?

A little bug brought Craig back in to the hospital for the first time since his transplant in September, but as luck would have it, he was released after the weekend with no sign of fever. Still going strong!

In even more exciting news, Craig will be hosting an online marrow donor drive for the next couple of months and we want your help!****Even if you already registered, please forward this info to any of your friends and family who might consider this.****
Becoming a registered marrow donor is easy and painless. It means YOU could be the one to save the life of someone for whom a stem cell transplant depends on finding a matched donor. And for a limited time, it’s FREE! Check out the process below:
1. Go to marrow.org and click “Join the Registry”
2. Answer a few minutes of questions about yourself.
3. When prompted, enter promo code craig210. The usual $52 fee is waived.
4. A test kit will arrive in your mail. Follow the directions to swab your cheeks with Q-tip-like thingys. NO NEEDLES, folks!
5. Pop that kit back in the mail. In a couple of weeks, you will be officially registered for life. You may or may not ever be called, but you are a HERO, nonetheless. And you won’t have had to leave the house!

*And if you are worried marrow will be painfully extracted from your back while you are wide awake, like Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy or Will Smith in Seven Pounds, then you really should check out Myths Vs. Facts, because that is NOT HOW IT WORKS! In almost all cases, surgery is not necessary, and donating marrow (stem cells) is like donating blood.*
Please pass it on! You could be someone’s ONLY match in the world, like this guy:

My True Life Episode!

Well it has been almost 6 months since we stopped filming this show and it is finally here!! Please tune in Monday March 15th at 10 pm – check your local listing for any time changes – it will be on MTV. MTV flew Kat, Rick and I out to New York to film a aftershow that will follow the episode so tune in to that as well. I am very interested in seeing how you all feel about the episode so please leave a comment with what you think.

If you would like to become a registered bone marrow donor you use promo code truelife2010 and you can sign up for free under my name. Remember to become a donor all it takes is some questions to answer and a simple swab of the inside of your mouth and you send the kit back and BAM you are a donor! To sign up visit www.bethematch.org and use promo code truelife2010

Thanks so much everyone for your support and love during all of this!

Picture of the cast and crew of the episode and the host.