This post is #140 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.
November 24, 2008
We returned to the Hem/Onc clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital on Monday morning, fully prepared for Hannah to be admitted so she could finally start her new chemotherapy treatments. But when her bloodwork showed a platelet level of 3,000 (normal is over 150,000), we knew we would not be starting that day. With a platelet count that low, she was at risk for excessive bleeding ... and excessive bleeding is a potential side effect of Avastin, the chemotherapy drug she would be receiving. Her red blood counts were also quite low, so instead of chemo, Hannah spent the day receiving transfusions of platelets and blood.
The good news was that her ANC was high enough to get her out of isolation. We were right at the beginning of Thanksgiving week, so that meant she could spend the week enjoying visits (and hugs) from family and friends, and hopefully start back to school after the holiday. Instead of an overnight hospital admission for chemo, we were able to head home that afternoon.
We knew it was important for Hannah to start chemotherapy as soon as possible after completing radiation. But at the same time, we knew what good medicine it would be for her body and spirit to have another week to recover ... a full week with NO appointments or hospital visits ... just family, friends, and home-cooked Thanksgiving food!
My email from ten years ago today ...
Well ... Hannah will not be starting chemotherapy today. Her platelets are at 3,000 and her hemoglobin/hematacrit (red blood counts) are also really low. So, instead of chemo, she's going to get blood and platelets. But here's the good news....her ANC is 761, so she is officially out of isolation. She is happy to be getting blood, because it always makes her feel so much better. She's already been given the platelets, and now she will receive two units of blood, which takes about four hours, so we are settling in for a long afternoon. Thankfully, we can go home when we're done!
Our oncology nurse came by and told us that we will probably start chemo next Monday, if her blood counts will allow it. We just can't start when her counts are so low. And as much as we would like to start, and know that we need to start, we can't help but be relieved that Hannah can just enjoy the rest of Thanksgiving week (we don't have to come back until next Monday) with good food and visits from friends and family! We have so much to be thankful for, even during this difficult season of our lives.
We wish all of you a blessed Thanksgiving...In the midst of all of the cooking, eating, football watching, and visiting with family, please be sure to take some time to thank God for being good, all the time!
Jill and Brad