Never have a wanted to kiss a doctor more than when Dr. Mixon told me that the results of Tanner’s chromasome translocations test (I’ll explain this later) moved her from standard risk to low risk!!!!!! This means the best outcomes prognosis and the least aggressive treatment plan. Hallelujah! Not only that, the doctors are so pleased with how well she is responding to the treatment that she may get to come home next week! Unbelieveable. You cannot keep this child down. Not leukemia, not crazy drug reactions, not even disease-carrying ticks!!! Tanner Page… world champion disease fighter delivers the first of many roundhouse punches!
The chromosome translocations test shows them the actual makeup of the leukemia cells, which of course, are abnormal. Leukemia cells are actually just white blood cells that don’t mature. Some stop when they are babies, some when they are toddlers and some when they are teenagers. Just depends on which type of leukemia you have (Tanner has pre-b ALL). So there are all these teenagers running around in your body partying and drinking and trashing the house. These cells also grow more quickly than normal cells, and just like word spreads like lightning about a great party, more and more teenagers come and the whole place goes to you-know-what in a handbasket. Within these crazy immature cells, the chromosomes sometimes swap genetic information. What boggles the mind is that modern medicine knows which of these translocations, as they are called, are predictors of good outcomes or bad outcomes. Tanner’s translocation is an indicator of, and I quote, “very good outcomes.” (thanks Kim for the helpful book that helped me understand this).
John and I are elated by this news and I got Tanner to high five me, but it means nothing to her and doesn’t change that fact that she has been woken up two nights in a row from a deep sleep to take five NASTY medicines, or that now her cheeks tingle and drive her crazy, or that tomorrow she will get a shot in each thigh, simultaneously, that will put a vaccine to shame. Not to put a damper on the good news, but just to say that life is pretty miserable for her and will be for a while. The reality is that for a leukemia patient the good news that treatment is working really well is bad news for the way they feel. We are cheering as we watch Tanner’s white blood cells drop because we know most of those cells are leukemia cells and their butts are being kicked, but for her, that means she feels very tired and weak. She still has some pain from too many cells exerting pressure in her bones, but that seems to be lessening as the chemo does its job. The side effects of the chemo are beginning to show, though. She had jaw pain today that is classic for one of the drugs and has had to have morphine twice today in order to be comfortable. Thank God for morphine.
So, speaking of side effects, they warned us mightily about the heavy dose of steroids she will take for 28 days straight and boy, were they right. Talk about cranky and unreasonable. And, sadly, a little girl who wakes from sleep crying uncontrollably and just wants Mommy to hold her. I want to hate all these drugs, but they’re saving my baby’s life.
We did have some good moments today, though brief. Again, Jake was a miracle-worker. I have some hilarious pictures of the two of them wearing John’s mother’s wigs and laughing hysterically. (I’ll get Ron to post them as soon as they download them along with a picture of my brother and his newly shaved head.) They played paddle ball and Tanner practically jumped out of bed to follow him around the room (yes, on her own two feet) while I followed along as unobtrusively as possible with her IV pole and tried to pretend I wasn’t there. Then. after lunch and a long nap, she and I went down to the playroom after dinner and drew some pictures. I drew her a picture of her, her future husband, child and cat when she grew up. She thought that was silly — I’m hoping it’s prophetic. She drew a picture of a dress, jewelry and a scarf. Then we cut out hearts and flowers to decorate the room. Priceless.
I want to take a moment to thank Ron Whitler for setting up this site for me. It has made it much easier to keep people updated without me having to respond individually to each inquiry. Please don’t be offended if I don’t write you an email answering your questions about Tanner’s status or even ours, but direct you to this site instead. Sometimes I just can’t answer everyone’s emails, even though I want to. And please don’t feel bad if you only read the first paragraph since I’m so lengthy at times. I’ll try to put the meat right there so you don’t have to wade through if you don’t have the time or inclination to do so. You don’t have to read it all, but I do have to write it all. It’s the only thing that lets me lay down my head at night without having nightmares.
Speaking of laying down my head,