Tanner update 6/2

Dear Friends:

tanner-curls-with-backpackSo much has happened in the past two very long days.  Let me start by saying thank you to all of you for your prayers, your loving messages, your extraordinary kindnesses and thoughtfulness towards our family in this terrible time for us.  Your emails keep John and I going through the day; we feel wrapped in love at a time when we need it most.

Yesterday was another exhausting day, but Tanner’s surgery to insert the chemo port and her spinal tap went well.  Her spinal fluid showed no leukemia cells, thankfully, but they inject chemo into her spinal fluid either way, though to prevent any cells from forming there.  This &^%^$#!! disease is so hideous that it actually hides in your spinal column since it knows that the chemo injected into her bloostream doesn’t work there.  Your body protects your brain and spinal column so thoroughly, that unless they inject the chemo directly into the spine, the leukemia can hide there and come out later to begin it’s path of destruction once again.  Unbelievable.

Tanner handled yesterday beautifully, and mercifully, emerged from her surgery a new girl.  One of the medicines they have given her to help with the pain finally kicked in after building up in her system for a few days and has made it possible for her to be much more comfortable while still and less tender when moving, although moving is still extremely painful.  That very morning, she was either completely doped up on morphine or she was panting from the excrutiating pain of just lying in her bed; it was heartbreaking.  So, we are so grateful she is a little more comfortable and some of her personality has come back.  She tires easily, though and sleeps often.

Today was the day that Tanner Page, age 5 and three quarters, had to accept that she has cancer.  The endless march of medication, the length of time she will be in the hospital, and, most devestating to her, the fact that she will lose her hair.  She ended the day by refusing to take medication (in only a way that Tanner could refuse!) and then realizing it made no difference whether she refused or not.  Before she went to sleep, she looked up at me with tears streaming down her cheeks and said, “I hate this place and I hate Leukemia.”  Amen to that.

She also had first dose of chemo today, which is oddly anticlimactic.  They just shoot it into the IV line that runs into her port (which feeds directly into the blood vessels leading to her heart) and that’s that.  I didn’t notice any real side effects today except that her food seemed to not taste good to her.

John and I spent the morning trying to digest the treatment plan, which is just so unimaginable.  It seemed like they discussed about a hundred drugs with us, to be administered in every way possible.  We will have honorary medical degrees before this is through.

So, enough said about the awful stuff… here was the good stuff:  my child, head pealed back in hysterical laughter as she snatched the hair off a puppet named Slater to reveal his leukemia inspired bald head; the immeasurable kindess of our friends who are doing things for us we didn’t even realize we needed; a darling little 8-year old named Lily who is friends with one of Tanner’s friends is 7 months into Leukemia treatment and wrote Tanner a note in crayon telling her that chemo is hard but she knows that Tanner can do it; my son saying to me as I left the house (again) this morning, “Mommy come back?” and then running off happily to play with a friend; and the doctors and nurses at this amazing hospital where they have thought of anything and everything a family could ever need and who treat our daughter like she is their own, even though they see this stuff every day.

Forgive me for the length of this post.  It’s ridiculously long, but helps me process this thing that has hit my family and turned our lives upside down.  A good friend has created a blog so that I can keep this up and disseminate information more easily.  You can reach it at http://www.tanner.celiamusic.net.  It will probably post tomorrow.  Thanks, Ron. [editorial: You’re welcome, glad I can do something helpful, — Ron]

One last thing — people keep asking how they can help… right now we have everything we need, but if you want to help us find a way to end this horrible disease, there is one thing you can do.  The little girl I mentioned above has a website, lilysgarden.org, where you can donate money to research for children’s cancer.  Any donations made in Tanner’s honor would be amazing.

Time for bed.

7 thoughts on “Tanner update 6/2

  1. Dear Sweet Beth:
    I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how I can’t stop thinking about little Tanner and worrying about you all. The good news is that Vanderbilt is an incredible place and the cancer nurses really “get it” when it comes to this gruesome disease.
    I hope it is mildly supportive to Tanner to be around other children and to see them improve and blossom under care.
    Do you want visitors? I want to respect how exhausted you must be, but I’d love to bring you something or just visit with you if that makes sense. Please let me know.

  2. Dearest Tanner,

    Mr. Glenn and I are praying really, really hard that your medicines will make that terrible leukemia go away fast!

    We will see you soon! And yes, I found your Webkinz!!

    I love you so much.

    Aunt Beth

  3. I am listening to the rain and hoping that it is washing away your worry – if only for a bit.

    We are praying for your beautiful family and ready to help in any way. Have faith, get some rest, and know that you have the strength to make it through this.

    Much love –

  4. I am Lily Hensiek’s grandmother, and I met you briefly in the hospital hallway the other day. My prayers are with you. When Lily was first diagnosed in December I worried so much about her losing her hair. Lily is such a girly-girl – always so picky about her clothes and her hair. But I’ve watched how she’s adapted and handled it so well. Tanner will do the same. It won’t be easy but just take it one day at a time. Tanner has the most important things in helping her get through this experience – and that’s a loving and supportive family and lots of friends to help out.

    Lots of prayers and good thoughts!

    Carol Johnston

  5. Hello y’all,
    I am Mary Beth Eberle’s mom—and I am praying for you! So are all of my 6th grade students where I teach, as well as anyone else I can reach.
    My father died of leukemia in 1962, and from his death came some of the research which will now help Tanner…. so we are connected twice. Know that our Father God sees you all and weeps with you and will hold you in His loving arms, through the arms and love of your family and friends.
    May He bless you always. Tanner will remain in our prayers!
    In His grip,
    Berta Garrity

  6. John and Beth ~ my heart goes out to you! John, I don’t know that I have heard from you since graduating Lambuth, my Kappa Sig big brother! I have wondered about you many times over the years and how and where you were. We are definitely praying for you and your family. I have a 3 1/2 year old, and would be absolutely beside myself. But God has a plan, you have to trust in that. He loves Tanner more than you ever could, and will hold her in His hands.
    Much love and prayers coming your way.
    Debbie (Butler) Stump

  7. John and Beth, we too are praying for you, Tanner and your family. May
    G-d grant you strength to face each day with a smile even if it hurts. We, like Debbie, went to school with you John at Lambuth and b/c of Facebook have all wondered and spoke of how and where you are. Lambuth being a small community of alumns is a wonderful place to find yourself when you need a helping hand. Please know that there are many of us on here who have found each other again and as grown ups, know how precious life and loved ones are.

    Love and prayers as well,
    Kathy (Koepp) and Stuart Goldberg

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