God Bless you for your faithful, fervent prayers! Her ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is 100 today compared to 30 yesterday and 8 the day before. We're moving up! Keep praying that we will see no infections while she is still neutropenic and that those counts will keep climbing up. Also, pray for all the details to work out for our departure tomorrow.
Right now we're praying that her body will start to recover. Her counts are at zero. We are told that as soon as her counts start to rise, the mucocitis (mouth and throat sores) will start to heal and she'll feel lots better.
On a lighter note, we're in the "hair collecting" stage again. Abby realized her hair was starting to fall out yesterday and requested a baggie to hold it. She was sad, but said, "at least now I don't have to wash it".
She hasn't had a fever since this morning, and there is still no sign of infection. We do not have a release day yet.
So far, there is no sign of any infection, praise God. Keep praying it stays that way!
You can praise God with us that her fever developed during the day which saved us from a visit to the ER. You can also praise God that the new oncology unit here is so quiet and peaceful. We will certainly get some good rest.
Here we go
Abby is now neutropenic and experiencing some pretty nasty mouth and throat sores. This is a new and unpleasant symptom, but she seems to be handling it as well as possible. She couldn't eat anything this morning, and swallowing her medications was quite painful. We will be stocking up on popsicles for a while now.
Tomorrow we are due to take her in for a platelet transfusion. Next Monday we will begin injecting neupogen into her line. Praise God she doesn't have to give herself the shots anymore! Then we will just monitor her counts and see when she recovers.
We have our weekend free and she'll go to Tucson Monday for her stem cells. You can pray that she will not have a need for any red cell or platelet transfusions before Monday. The only way we can give her a transfusion here is to admit her to the hospital.
Thanks again for covering us during this part of Abby's treatment.
Giggles and Good News
Yesterday and last night were great for Abby. In the afternoon, she was energized by a visit from her friend, Lindsay. They invited 2 other patients into her room for a very noisy and giggle-filled play time of Barbies. Daniel also came to the hospital with me and gave Abby her dose of giggles and grins for the morning. She was so glad to tell him all about the Spider Man and Rescue Heroes car awaiting him in the playroom. It always amazes me how Abby is able to think of anyone but herself when she is enduring her treatment. Isn't it beautiful how having a relationship with Christ allows even a 6 year old to look beyond her current trials? Now, Abby IS also human. She does have her selfish moments, just like the rest of us, but it brings us great joy to see Christ doing His work in her just like the rest of us.
Many people have asked how much Abby knows about her situation. C.R. and I have always intended to allow Abby to ask questions as she felt comfortable. We often ask her if there is anything she wants to ask or if she is worried about anything. Abby knows that her cancer is very aggressive and that people can die from cancer. In fact, she asked me a few weeks ago if she would be homesick in heaven or if she would miss people. It is quite clear that she understands much more than I would have expected. However, she also has an incredible peace about her future. We may not know what our earthly future holds, but we do know that ultimately we will be in heaven worshipping around the throne of Jesus because we have made Him Lord of our lives. Abby had the opportunity to write in the chapel journal at Give Kids the World when we took our wish trip. I told her that she could write anything she wanted to for the staff, volunteers and other wish families who may read it. She decided to write John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. What a wonderful promise we have for a future free from cancer and all the other ugliness of this world!
As always, thank you for your faithful prayers.
Despite the fact that she was so sick all night last night, her spirits remained surprisingly peaceful. She reminded herself often that her angels were with her and once she said they were singing praise songs :) Thank you for your prayers. God is ever faithful.
Day 0, Cytoxan done
Thank you all for praying.
Line placed, waiting for chemo
The new unit at BDMC is beautiful. It is so pleasant--lots of light, large rooms, (almost) real beds for parents to sleep in, showers in the bathrooms.
Please, please pray that the chemo will be effective and that she will tolerate it at least as well as she did last time. We'll keep everyone posted.
I had a first today--they actually let me back in the OR when Abby went to sleep. She did great for the anesthetic.
And before we knew it, Dr. Janik was coming to get us. She needed a little Demerol post surgery but it immediately improved her disposition.. The new line is not in the middle of her chest like before, its off to the right side, and she is very happy with that.
We're just waiting for her to be released from recovery and we will be heading down to the new oncology unit.
Spinal Tap Clear
We also have some more details regarding her next phase of treatment. We have a week off; next Monday she will go to Banner Desert to have a phoresis catheter put in, and also to start her chemotherapy, which will primarily consist of 4 days of cytoxan and topotican. The cytoxan will be delivered at higher doses than before. Then, unlike before, we will wait through the weekend and go to Tucson the following Monday to get her stem cells infused. This is because the topotican has to be out of her system completely before she can get her cells back.
We've also heard back on the pathology from Lucy Roarke at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is sticking by her diagnosis of an anaplastic astrocytoma. You might recall that this is a very different tumor from a PNET, and the first time we had her look at it she said the same thing. We're going to get another opinion from a well-respected pathologist at St. Joseph's here in Phoenix. Either way, it doesn't change our treatment plan, according to Dr. Graham. It still would be nice to get some kind of consensus on the pathology.
So we have a week of peace, to some extent. Please pray she will tolerate the new chemotherapy at least as well as she did last time around. And pray for Abby's brothers and sister--they are figuring out that we are really starting this all over again.
We haven't heard an official report yet from anyone. We'll write more after we get debriefed.
She's under observation for about an hour, and then she gets a short ambulance ride to Phoenix Children's, where she gets to spend the night.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery today
We were met by Dr. Loomis, one of Abby's favorite anesthesiologists. He accessed her port, and she pushed her sleepy medicine just like always.
The Stereotactic Radiosurgery process needs an MRI and a CT scan, then the two images are electronically fused together and used to create a treatment plan. A rigid frame is also attached to her head during this time to provide a fixed point of reference for the delivery of the radiation.
The planning process takes 2 to 3 hours. Abby's done with all the scanning right now, but she will still be sleeping throughout. We're just waiting for them to come and tell us the planning process is done, and then we will move down to radiation oncology.