This post is #134 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
We had all thought, rather naively, I suppose, that once this second round of radiation treatments was completed, Hannah would have some time to enjoy just being a typical teenager for awhile before starting chemotherapy treatments. She was excited at the prospect of having a healthy immune system and no longer being isolated. She had not attended school since September, when we pulled her out of class to inform her that her cancer had returned, and she was anxious to get back. After all, if she was to achieve her goal to be the valedictorian of her senior class next year, she couldn't fall too far behind!
We didn't realize how long it would take her body to recover from the extensive radiation she had undergone. After all, she had sailed through the treatments with few visible side effects ... but we were beginning to learn that there was a whole host of invisible side effects with which we now had to contend.
These invisible side effects were not only keeping Hannah in the hospital and preventing her from going to school, but more importantly, they were delaying the start of her chemotherapy treatments. And there was nothing we could do about it but learn to wait patiently.
My email from ten years ago today ...
Hannah had a really good night last night and has had a good day today. Her throat is feeling much better, and she feels better overall, but her ANC (immunity) has dropped down to 24. This is the lowest it's ever been--it was 42 on the second day of her last hospitalization. To give you a frame of reference, her ANC has to be at least 500 for her to be "un-isolated", so this is really low.
Her red blood counts were low, too, so they gave her three more units of blood and some additional platelets also today. Her blood cultures are negative so far, so that is good news, and it helps that she's feeling better.
But....it looks like we may be here awhile. They've explained to us that the radiation just really zapped her bone marrow, and it's just taking it awhile to kick in and start producing new blood cells on its own. They tell us that this is normal, and not at all unusual after the type of radiation she had. It's been a little bit discouraging, because we had actually been starting to talk about Hannah starting back to school in the next week or so, but we know we must wait patiently for her body to heal.
Please join us in praying specifically that her bone marrow will begin to produce healthy blood cells soon, not just so we can get out of the hospital or so she can start back to school, but so we can begin the chemotherapy as soon as possible while those tumors are still feeling the effects of the radiation!
Thank you so much for your prayers....we are so thankful that God is good, all the time!
Jill and Brad