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.


2 thoughts on “Tanner’s diagnosis

  1. I wanted to give you the following link. It goes to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital where friends and family can select an e-card. You can write a message, share some jokes or stories – and the hospital volunteers will print out the cards and deliver them to Tanner. Lily always LOVES getting these e-cards when she’s in the hospital. So I encourage your family and friends to send Tanner cards – everyday.


  2. Oh Beth and John,

    I cannot believe your family is going through yet another devasting, unexpected time. I am heartbroken to hear this news and, if you don’t mind, will put Tanner and the whole family on every prayer list I can get hold of. Sending you all my love and prayers.


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