Tanner’s diagnosis

Dear Friends and Family:

190px-acute_leukemia-allFor those of you who are receiving these email updates for the first time, let me start by saying that Tanner is in the hospital again and has been since Thursday. Finally after many days of intense pain, fever and unexplained abnormalities in her blood work, we have a diagnosis, but it is not any from which we can find any comfort. Tanner has leukemia… my sweet, funny little girl has cancer… so hard to believe, but writing this helps me cope somehow.

It is midnight and I have just finished signing the paperwork for her to have a chemotherapy port surgically implanted into her chest tomorrow so we can begin treatment immediately. She will also have a spinal tap. This is following a bone marrow biopsy today, so suffice it to say, not a good couple of days for her.

Odd as this sounds, if you are going to have leukemia, this is the type to get. She has ALL [read more at Wikipedia], which for a girl her age, has a 95% cure rate. We will be in the hospital for treatment for 2-4 weeks, followed by outpatient chemo treatments once a week for many months to come. That will eventually change to once a month. Her total treaments will last 2 1/2 to 3 years — a fact that I still cannot come to any terms with at all. I think getting through tomorrow will be my goal for now.

I sent my poor exhausted husband home to get some rest, but the nurses and doctors are quickly becoming friends now and have been super, so I don’t feel alone.

Her intense back, neck and leg pain, which doctors found to be incompatible with Leukemia, is due to a high concentraction of leukemia cells clustered in her spine an legs, which is apparently not seen often. 90% of the cells in her bone marrow are leukemia cells — how could that be when she was riding her bike so enthusiastically just three days ago?

Usually, she is pretty comfortable as long as she remains completely immobile, but just minutes ago developed a pain in her side that is hurting her now even when she rests. She calls it a needle pain and when it flares, tears roll down her little cheeks and her eyes grow wide in helpless suprise. She looks at her Mommy to fix it, which of course, I can’t. The doctor orders more morphine and now she is trying to go back to sleep.

You wonderful people have been calling and emailing asking what you can do to help. Tomorrow we will get a better idea of what the next few weeks look like and let you know. For now, I know she can’t have a lot of visitors, due to immune suppression issues. On this unit, each room can only have two visitors, including parents. I know seeing kids would boost her spirits, but we have to be very careful that they are healthy kids and limit the number of different people she is exposed to. Cards, letters, pictures or any kind of little things that would remind her of her friends would be appreciated. Even a little video of a friend wishing her to get well that we could play on the computer would be great. Anna Lynn Whitfield from our church is coordinating meals, which are also greatly appreciated. For now, my parents are taking care of Jake, but we may need some help with that eventually.

I don’t know what else to say. My heart is broken, but will need to heal itself by tomorrow so I can be strong for my little girl.


Reason to hope — Tanner!

Okay, we have a little hope that it is not Leukemia… Doctors came in today to say the more tests they run and the more Tanner’s symptoms progress, there are some things going on that are not typical of Leukemia. She still has abnormal white blood cells — a strong indication of leukemia — but her elevated enzyme levels and and an enlarged bile duct are not usually associated with Leukemia. They are currently doing a battery of blood tests to rule out some kind of viral or bacterial infection as well as having a liver specialist chase down her bile and enzyme situation before proceeding with the bone marrow biopsy. This by no means rules out leukemia, but is the only hope we have that it could be something else. How typical of Tanner to be atypical.

Tanner Update

Beyond all our understanding, Tanner’s current diagnosis is presumed to be leukemia.  All tests, lab work, clinical signs point to this diagnosis, although  a bone marrow test is necessary for a firm diagnosis.  We are beyond devastated, but know we must gather ourselves to face this horrible thing head on and conquer it.  Needless to say, we are in for a long, ugly haul.  We will be in the hospital for at least 2 weeks undergoing intensive chemo and then ongoing weekly visits to the hospital for many months and long-term chemo for years.  I can’t believe this even as I write it.

Normally, we wouldn’t send out an email like this without a firm diagnosis, but feel we need to prepare for the seeming inevitableness of incorporating this new challenge into our lives.  So, putting all pride aside, we are letting our dear friends know that we will be needing help.  My parents are coming tomorrow for an undetermined length of time to care for Jake.  We will need food (I can’t believe I am asking so shamelessly, but I know when I am beat), possibly help caring for Jake and, possibly someone to sit with Tanner at times.  And, of course, prayer.

Tanner doesn’t know yet… I can’t imagine telling her she will be missing all the things she loves to do so much.  I’ll have to table that thought until tomorrow.

Once again, we thank God for our unbelievable friends. 

Beth & John

Tanner in hospital again… please pray

vch_exterior_logoWe’re at Vanderbilt again with Tanner in critical care — this time an as yet unexplained problem with her platelets, red blood cells and white cells. Could be her liver… could be some other things I just can’t bring myself to write here. She is in a lot of pain, but highly medicated and managing. We should hopefully know more later tonight or tomorrow morning. Don’t need anything from anyone except your most fervent prayers, which I know you will lift up.

Seems inhuman that we are here again. We are all exhausted and trying to guard Tanner’s and our rest in case we are in for a long haul. We’ll let you know when we are up for visitors, but for now, we’ll send out email updates often.

Pray hard.