July 23, 2009 Another clinic day. Another spinal with chemo. Is it weird to say, that all things considered, it was a really good day. Tanner loves the nurses, especially Carie, her favorite. John and I love Lee, our recovery nurse who checks the roster every day to see if Tanner might be coming in so she can request her. In a strange way, it’s like seeing our cancer friends every Thursday, and today we met a new one.
John had an intern at Franklin American whose brother has T-cell ALL. He sent John a link to his Caring Bridge site and reached out to us to let us know he understood what we are going through. Today, when we were in recovery waiting for Tanner to wake up, a sedated teenaged boy was wheeled in next to her. John kept looking at him and pulled up the Website for his friends’ brother and, sure enough, it was him. Childhood cancer is a small world… thankfully.
We never got to meet Thomas; he was still under when we left, but we did meet his mother and she is amazing. Six children (that alone makes her my hero) and he is her next to youngest. They are fighters, for sure, though. A tough crew that I know will leave cancer wishing it had picked someone else.
Tanner’s counts today were pretty good. Her platelets, which for some reason were triple the normal amount last week, were down to only double normal today. Her hemoglobin was up a little bit, which helps her energy level (although it really hasn’t needed any help lately!), and her neutraphils (the big infection fighters) were down from 2200 to 1400, which is still good for a kid with leukemia. We have learned that even though her counts have been really good so far, they are still all over the place from week to week, just evidence of the power of the chemo. It’s easy sometimes to think she’s totally fine since she’s been feeling so good. I find these numbers we hold our breath over every week to be sobering; they serve as a reminder that despite the way it looks, her body is still under tremendous strain.
We are only one week from finishing Consolidation, our second phase of treatment. No surgeries or extra chemo next week; we just go in for a blood count (now, that’s what I call a break!). She’ll continue to take the 6-MP, which is an oral chemo, every day for the rest of the next week. Then if her counts are still okay, we’ll start Interim Maintenance the following Thursday. We will only have to go to clinic every 10 days for the two months of this phase, but she will get the dreaded Vincristine every visit in addition to IV injected Methotrexate. Thus far, she has only had methotrexate injected into her spinal column, so we don’t really know how this chemo will effect her when it is injected into her bloodstream.
The physical therapist is coming back tomorrow, hopefully, to go over the at-home program she has designed for us. And, next week, John and I have an appointment with a counselor that specializes in play therapy. Hopefully, she can help us and Tanner learn some constructive ways to let go of her anger. She was an angel today, of course, since we called a therapist!
Jake spends every Clinic Day with Aunt Beth. When we leave in the morning, he happily shouts, “Bye Mommy, Daddy, Tanner. Happy Day at the hospital!,” from the breakfast table. He doesn’t care in the least that we are leaving him; he is going to Aunt Beth’s house where there is a pond, geese, cats, a garden, peppers to pick, flowers to plant, and various other fascinating activities that he doesn’t have at home. Thank you, Beth, for making Thursday’s my son’s favorite day (and for folding my laundry!).
Hilariously enough, Tanner had a hard time going to sleep tonight. Before leukemia, Tanner never napped; if she did, she wouldn’t be able to go to bed until hours after her bedtime. Tonight, after she had come out of her room for about the 10th time after going to bed, I said to John, “Do you think being sedated during surgery is like a nap for her?” Unbelievably, we agreed that it must be. You gotta love the unstoppable nature of our girl.