Friday, September 2, 2011

09/02/11 Technicalities

News will be coming this afternoon.  As long our lumbar puncture is actually at 1 pm as scheduled, I will be able to tell you Adam's reaction to his chemo this week and whether we are homeward-bound!  Probably around 6ish.  In the mean time, I have posted some technicalities.  Some you have heard, but more in a science report kind of way...
All About Chemo: I did something that I have been avoiding for the last 9 days... I googled.  If you know me well, you know my unhealthy reliance to google for answers.  I now know why I did not want to do this when Adam was first admitted.  Oh the gloom and doom.  If you do a google image search you can see what one of the little blast cells our doctors saw floating by in Adam's blood. Do not, however, I repeat, DO NOT scroll down.  You do not want to see that. I did you a favor and just posted a pic. The levels of toxic going into Adam's body right now is unbelievable.  He is getting what's called a combination chemotherapy - two or more drugs at a time (i.e. right now is the chemo and the steroid). Chemotherapy is a poison.  It literally kills cells by poisoning them.  Both the bad and the good.  Something interesting a nurse told me was that if Adam wets the bed I need to use gloves to clean it up (because that's where the toxins come out).  Adam has gotten his chemo in 4 different ways via intravenous (metaport), oral (pill form), intramuscular (pegs), and will go for inthrathecal (lumbar puncture) tomorrow while under anesthesia.

Side Effects: We are still waiting for some of the side effects (hair loss, tiredness, bleeding, bruising, problems in the mouth, and skin changes), but he was taken off a medication that counteracts organ damage (kidney, liver, and heart) because his blood levels showed no problems in these areas.  Still scary though.  The side effects we are seeing already are low immunity, nausea from different smells, loss of appetite, sore jaw, and taste changes.  I just can't believe that chemo is KILLING Adam's immune system, and he still LOOKS normal!   Does it get worse than this? It must!

What is Leukemia? A.L.L. is the most common cancer diagnosed in children and it peaks at ages 2-5 years. Causes are not officially known.  It is basically caused by a DNA defect in which the body produces these "blast" cells that kill off the good cells in the blood (three types of cells = red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets).  Blood cells are made in the bone marrow by stem cells (uh oh, getting close to political debate here, jk), so in some cases stem cell transplants are needed (usually donated from a sibling). We are not that far along, so Rachel is in the clear. If a child's bone marrow is not able to make enough red blood cells to carry oxygen, the child may develop anemia, and feel very tired - here's what happened to Adam so we were able to catch it. But where did this come from?

Where did it come from? There is some research showing prenatal radiation exposure could be a cause of leukemia, but it goes on to say that radiation has to be at levels equal to Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attacked.  I definitely wasn't there.  I didn't do hardly anything I wasn't supposed to when pregnant.  Ok, I ate sushi ONCE with my sister, and had an occasional Diet Coke here and there. I haven't been to the doctor for anything outside the common cold or flu, not even a broken bone!  Websites are really trying to convince me that it is not genetic or inherited, but it is just hard to not try to find something you could have done. Even Venus Williams, who we can all agree is in amazing shape, was recently diagnosed with a random autoimmune deficiency.  Where does it come from? Only 2500 cases of childhood leukemia cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year!  I was a little confused by this since I have already heard of two kids at our church and school with Leukemia.  What are the odds?  Well, it is more rampant in urban areas.  More people = more cases.  Easy logic, I guess. The survival rates for leukemia (all types) is 70%, but for ALL is 95%. Since we are a "standard risk" (as opposed to high risk) and have super genes inherited from the Italians and Scots, I am still going with 97%.

I think this would be a good time to chalk it up to those who donate time, money, and energy to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  My amazing friend, Megan runs with Team in Training every year, and she raises thousands of dollars.  Not even the 1/2 marathon - the WHOLE she-bang! I have heard from friends who have relatives, friends, co-workers, just a ton of through-the-grapevine relations to the society and contributions to the cause.  I never have felt so grateful for these things.  In 1960, my son would have a fatal case of cancer.  Since 1991, he has a chance to survive.  And even more recent (date unknown), we have hardly thought twice that he won't have a normal life.  Thank you’s all around!! 


  1. Teresa, you are right about how far research has come. TNT is a fantastic organization that has helped provide The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society over 1 BILLION DOLLARS towards cancer research.

    Any all support is greatly appreciated and truly is making a difference!

  2. You rock my world! Amazing :) Thanks Megs!