Nicholas Kopoulos Cancer Assistance

Well where do I begin..... 
        In May of 2011 I was first diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma. I underwent 6 months of chemotherapy on a regimen called A.B.V.D. After completing the cycle all scans & tests showed I was in remission & I had beat the nasty disease that has ruined so many lives... I went back about my normal life & even got started in a great career with a great company. I began working for Dollar General as a part time employee & worked my way from being a Part Time / 2 day a week employee, to a Store Manager running my own store within one year of being hired. Life was moving along great!! I took advantage of my second chance at life & ran with it. Not looking back one bit or letting my past ruin any momentum I had going for me. I continued my regular Dr visits & everything stayed fine for a while. Even cleared the 5 year remission cycle to be in considered 100% CANCER FREE!!!
Now Let's fastforward to this year....
        In June of 2017 I started noticing weird feelings that I had remembered from before being diagnosed in 2011. Everytime I would eat I felt nauseous & instantly wanted to throw up, my body would feel fatigued after doing simple jobs at work that I was doing on a daily bases, & a slight lump appeared on my neck where my Lymphnodes are below my ear.  All these signs instantly reminded me of when I was diagnosed in 2011. I took a few days off work & admitted myself to Kingwood Hospital to get a biopsy done & check to see if the Cancer had returned..... Well it did & man was it rough hearing the Dr come in & confirm that my Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma had in fact returned. My two worst days of my life were this day & when I was told in 2011. All that work I did  only to find out in a way I lost the fight because the Cancer had retuned. It took me a few days to get my mind right & come to terms that I beat this once there is no way I will not do it again!!!
Treatment Plan for 2017 reoccurance....
        In late June of this year I started an intense Chemotherapy regimen called I.C.E which was a 5 day a week & would start on Monday & go through Friday morning. Each day was about 4 to 5 hours of Chemo & on nights 3 / 4 it would require me bringing a pump home for overnight treatment. This lasted about 4 cycles which was every third week for a total of about 12 weeks. After completion I was refered by my oncologyst Dr Jeong to Dr Ramos at Houston Methodist Hospital Center for Cell & Gene Therapy Blood & Marrow Transplant department to begin my process on a Autologous Stem Cell/ Bone Marrow Transplant. I began going two to three times a week to Houston Methodist for all of my pre Transplant tests & to get the process started....
Pre Stem Cell/Bone Marrow Transplant......
        After about 3 months of non stop visits to clinic & prepping for Transplant the Drs felt it was time to get going on my transplant. I had to complete a week of 3 Neupogen shots to my stomach every morning to pull all the Stem Cells out of my Bone Marrow & get them circulating into my blood stream. After that week it was collection time. Over two days (5 hours each day) I managed to get 5.7 million Stem Cells collected as they cycled through 32 liters of my blood in there machines used for collection. The Dr told me that I had more than enough Stem Cells as they shoot for about 5 million & we could now get the process going!!! 
Hospital Check in & Transplant.....
        On October 20, 2017 I checked into hospital which is considered Day -6. As soon as I checked in I was sent for surgery to have my existing port removed & a Hickman line placed for my hospital stay. This line gave them double access to administer meds & the Stem Cells as it was connected directly to my jugular vein in my neck which goes straight to your heart & gets the meds & other things to the rest of your body alot faster than through a normal I.V. Starting that evening I went on a HARCORE chemo regimen as they call it named B.E.A.M which was twice a day (9am to 1pm then 9pm to 1am) for 6 days until my Day 0 (Transplant Day) This put a whooping on my body. I lost about 15-20 lbs in the 6 days because all I wanted to do was sleep to numb the pain & not feel changes going on in my body. Once I got to Day 0 the nerves kicked in & I became nervous for the first time in this whole process. My Day 0 (Transplant Day) started at 11am & I recieved 10 bags of Stem Cells which each bag took about 6 minutes a piece to administer through my Hickman line. A total of about a one hour process.

       Quickly I felt the Stem Cells infusing into my bone marrow in lower back & my taste buds went away almost instantly. Then the Stem Cells let off a foul odor that is very distinct. I remember the Dr coming in a few times saying "I smell the Stem Cells Brewing" The smell lasted a few days until most Cells graphted their way into the marrow. October 27,2017 became my "New Birthday" as they call it in the transplant world. I was introduced to a new immune system & it is considered  first day of my NEW LIFE!!!  I stayed in the hospital building my  new immune system since mine was at 0.01 (white blood cell count) & the nomal person runs about 11.40 per liter.. I had to have a couple blood tranfusions & platelet infusions in the process as my counts were not climbing as they should & were staying low. I was release to come home on November 8, 2017 which was Day +12 for me. They make you wait until your WBC hits about 3.0 per liter which is considered the bare minimum to be released to strict house arrest at home & no public interaction. I have to admit being home is much better than the hospital for healing. Just knowing you're home does alot for you mental through all this. I know I still have a LONG road ahead of me in all this as the recovery process is about 4 months total before I will even be close to being back to normal. However knowing the Lymphoma is gone from my body & I am getting better everyday just shows I am here for a reason & I need to take full advantage of this 3rd chance at life that most people did not get the oppurtunity to think to have. 

My reason for GFM page & final thoughts....
        I normally would never do something like this as I am a very private person whose pride would not let them ask for help. However after speaking with some friends & sitting back & seeing medical bills, house bills & just everyday needs adding up I feel I should atleast try to help out around here as my wife has taken on 100% of the finacial burden this whole thing comes with. In 2011 we did everything ourselves with no assistance or help from others. The pride thing came into play & I couldn't bring myself to ask for help.  Well this go around it has been alot more on us since this Started in June 2017 & will not end  till about Feb 2018 & honestly will continue for years to come (remember remission lasts 5 years which is checkups regularly & Dr visits to make sure I am still clear)  I had to take a FMLA which secured my job till my return, but was denied Short Term Disability & SSI because I'm not blind or have my child under 18 living with me. It's crazy to me being this was a natural occurance & not something I did to myself to cause the Cancer  since Hodgkins Lymphoma is hereditary. I don't look to raise much, but feel I could atleast try & see what I can get help with. If you feel you would like to help out any donations are & will be appreciated & used for exactlty what are needed in my recovery. I appreciate everyone taking time to atleast read my story & if I can help atleast one person with this I feel I did my part!!! Feel free to contact me for any more info you need & I will update this regularly for those following my battle. My main push has been my wife & daughter. I've been keeping positive through everything. I learned if you let Cancer mentally get to you. That is when it wins so I am staying postive & keeping an open mind that I will beat this again & not let it win!!!!

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Nick Kopoulos 
Cleveland, TX
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